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Chad Ingalls v. Government Employees Insurance Company

October 18, 2012

CHAD INGALLS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY, JOHN
DOES 1-50, ET AL., GEICO (GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY), PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHAD J. INGALLS AND PEARL INGALLS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Michael Seabright United States District Judge

) ORDER (1) GRANTING CHAD ) INGALLS' AND PEARL INGALLS' ) SECOND MOTION FOR ) SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DOC. ) NO. 86; AND (2) DENYING GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES ) INSURANCE COMPANY'S Defendants. ) MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DOC. NO. 90 ORDER (1) GRANTING CHAD INGALLS' AND PEARL INGALLS' SECOND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DOC. NO. 86; AND (2) DENYING GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DOC. NO. 90

I. INTRODUCTION

On January 12, 2009, Plaintiff Chad Ingalls, who was in the midst of moving his household from California to Hawaii, was driving a rented vehicle on Oahu when he was rear-ended by Jung Yun Song ("Song"). Chad Ingalls suffered various injuries and subsequently sought uninsured/underinsured motorist ("UM/UIM") benefits under his insurance policy with Government Employees Insurance Company ("GEICO").

GEICO has refused to make any payments under the policy, and the parties dispute (1) whether Chad Ingalls' claim is governed by his California policy or the Hawaii policy GEICO issued after the accident; and (2) if the dispute if governed by the California policy, whether Hawaii substantive law applies even though the policy provides that coverage is governed by California law. And the difference between Hawaii law and California law is significant -- if Hawaii law applies, Chad and Pearl Ingalls (the "Ingalls") may be entitled to "stack" their UM/UIM coverage by the number of vehicles insured under the policy such that even though the policy provides UM/UIM coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person, it would provide a total of $200,000 in benefits because the policy covers two vehicles. If California law applies, the Ingalls cannot stack the UM/UIM coverage and the amount that they would otherwise be entitled to under the policy ($100,000) must be offset by what they received from Song ($100,000), meaning that they are not entitled to any benefits.

On July 12, 2012, the court denied a first round of summary judgment motions directed to whether the California policy or Hawaii policy applies. See Ingalls v. GEICO, 2012 WL 287562 (D. Haw. July 12, 2012) (the "July 12 Order"). The July 12 Order further denied summary judgment on the Ingalls' alternative argument that Hawaii law would apply even if the California policy was in effect at the time of the accident. The July 12 Order determined that Hawaii law choice-of-law principles apply, but found that the parties had not adequately briefed application of those principles to the California policy. Id. at *11-12. The court therefore provided the parties the opportunity to submit Motions addressing this issue, which are now before the court.

Based on the following, the court finds that even if the California policy was in effect at the time of the accident, Hawaii substantive law still applies. The court therefore GRANTS the Ingalls' Second Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. No. 86, and DENIES GEICO's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, Doc. No. 90.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background*fn1

1. The Ingalls' Automobile Insurance With GEICO

Chad Ingalls first obtained automobile insurance with GEICO in 1992 while he was a Hawaii resident. Doc. No. 48, Ingalls' Concise Statement of Facts ("CSF") ¶ 1.*fn2 Chad Ingalls added his wife Pearl Ingalls to the policy in 1996, and maintained coverage with GEICO during their moves within Hawaii, multiple moves between Hawaii and Arizona, a move from Arizona to California, and a move from California to Hawaii. See Doc. No. 48-10, Ingalls Ex. 7 at 22, 23, 28, 41. Although each move resulted in different insurance coverage, premiums, and terms and conditions,*fn3 Doc. No. 44-15, Akin Decl. ¶ 5, Chad Ingalls' policy number changed only twice,*fn4 and there was never a cancellation of coverage. Doc. No. 48, Ingalls CSF ¶ 23; see also Doc. No. 48-2, Ingalls Decl. ¶ 32. Ingalls' GEICO coverage was continuous during the course of these moves and throughout these years. Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 10(a).

2. The Ingalls' Move to California and the California Policy

In June 2008, the Ingalls moved from Arizona to Blythe, California (their first and only move to California). Doc. No. 48-9, Ingalls Ex. 6 at 33, 83. As was his practice, Chad Ingalls notified GEICO of this move, resulting in GEICO recording their mailing and rated address as of June 6, 2008 as 460 North 8th Street, Blythe, California 92225-1811. Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 10(e). Thereafter, premiums for the Ingalls' insured vehicles (a 2008 Honda Civic and a 2005 Lincoln Navigator) were based on California law. Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 10(e).

The Ingalls' California policy provided for UM/UIM coverage, with limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence. Doc. No. 89-1, at page 3 of 29. The California policy, in its amendments, also includes a provision offsetting GEICO's liability for underinsured motorist coverage by the amount paid by any person liable for the injury:

REIMBURSEMENT AGREEMENT AND OFFSET PROVISION. OUR RIGHT TO RECOVER PAYMENT. . . . If an award or judgment against, or settlement with, any party that the insured claimed was responsible for the bodily injury has been concluded, then the amounts we owe under this coverage shall be reduced by the amount of that award, judgment, or settlement.

Id. at page 22 of 29. Finally, another amendment to the policy includes a governing law provision,*fn5 providing that "[t]he policy and any amendment(s) and endorsement(s) are to be interpreted pursuant to the laws of the state of California." Id. at page 24 of 29.

The Ingalls renewed this policy on November 1, 2009, with coverage running from December 6, 2008 through June 6, 2009. Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 10(f). An invoice was sent to the Ingalls' California address in December 2009, see id. ¶ 10(g); Doc. No. 44-3, Langley Decl. Ex. B, and the Ingalls paid the amount via Auto Pay on December 31, 2008. Doc. No. 55-1, Chad Ingalls Suppl. Decl. ¶ 7. ///

3. The Ingalls' Move From California to Hawaii

The Ingalls' move to California was ultimately short-lived -- by December 2008, the Ingalls were planning to return to Hawaii in early January 2009.*fn6 See Doc. No. 48, Ingalls CSF ¶ 9. To that end, sometime in December 2008, when Chad Ingalls renewed his California policy, he told GEICO that he planned to move to Hawaii (although the parties dispute the actual nature of this notice). Doc. No. 79, GEICO Pretrial Statement at 15. The Ingalls also took their two vehicles to shipping companies on January 7 and 8, 2009 to have them shipped to Hawaii. Doc. Nos. 48-14, -15, Ingalls Exs. 11-12. On January 9, 2009, the Ingalls returned to Hawaii and became permanent residents. Doc. No. 48, Ingalls CSF ¶ 14.

On January 12, 2009, Chad Ingalls was driving a Hawaii rental car in Kapolei, Hawaii when he was rear-ended by Song. Id. ¶¶ 18-19. At the time of the accident, Chad Ingalls had a Hawaii driver's license, and Song likewise was a Hawaii resident with a Hawaii driver's license and driving a car licensed and garaged in Hawaii. Doc. No. 48-4, Ingalls Ex. 1; Doc. No. 48, Ingalls CSF ¶¶ 19-20. Chad Ingalls suffered various injuries resulting in medical expenses in excess of $100,000, and additional ...


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