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Williams v. Allstate Insurance Co.


August 17, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge


In this case alleging breach of contract and insurance bad faith, Plaintiffs Jack Williams and Cari Williams ("Plaintiffs") allege that their homeowners' carrier, Defendant Allstate Insurance Company ("Allstate") breached its obligation to provide indemnification following a windstorm loss that occurred on or about January 4, 2008. Allstate has moved for partial summary adjudication as to Plaintiffs' Second Cause of Action, for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, on grounds that Allstate's coverage determination was made as a result of its reasonable reliance on expert reports indicating that the windstorm was not the cause of Plaintiffs' purported loss. Allstate's motion is presently scheduled to be heard on September 2, 2010.

Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' ex parte application for an order shortening time on its Motion to Continue Allstate's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Plaintiffs request that their motion be heard on an expedited basis since its opposition to Allstate's motion is due on August 20, 2010. Plaintiffs contend that they have outstanding discovery requests going to the heart of whether the opinions proffered by Allstate's experts were indeed reasonable. That discovery is subject to a timely Motion to Compel to be heard on August 27, 2010, just five business days before the hearing on Allstate's summary judgment motion, and a week after Allstate's opposition is due given the current September 2, 2010 hearing date. Citing the necessity of obtaining the disputed discovery in order to meaningfully oppose Allstate's Motion, Plaintiffs seek a continuance of that motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f).

Rule 56(f) states in pertinent part as follows:

(f) When Affidavits are Unavailable. Should it appear from the affidavits of a party opposing the motion that the party cannot for reasons stated present by affidavit facts essential to justify the party's opposition, the court may refuse the application for judgment or may order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or depositions to be taken or discovery to be had or may make such other order as is just.

Rule 56(f) confers the court with discretion to order that additional discovery be completed before to summary judgment, or to "make such order as it just" to "protect parties from a premature grant of summary judgment." Weinberg v. Whatcom County, 241 F.3d 746, 750 (9th Cir. 2001).

"A district court should continue a summary judgment upon a good faith showing by affidavit that the continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to preclude summary judgment." Id. at 750, citing California v. Campbell, 138 F.3d 772, 779 (9th Cir. 1998).

The Declaration of Plaintiffs' counsel, George E. Murphy, articulates in detail just why the still-outstanding discovery is necessary in order to oppose Allstate's Motion. In response to Plaintiffs' request for an order shortening time, Allstate's counsel points to the fact that it had to have its potentially dispositive Motion for Partial Summary Judgment heard by September 14, 2010 under the terms of the Court's current Pretrial Scheduling Order, and indicates that the selected September 2, 2010 date was the last motion date remaining before that deadline expired. With respect to the motion itself, Allstate states only that Plaintiffs have indeed raised "a serious question" concerning their need to obtain additional information for purposes of properly opposing Allstate's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.

Under the circumstances, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have shown good cause for continuing the hearing on Allstate's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Given the impending deadlines, as well as the papers already submitted, Plaintiffs' continuance request is hereby GRANTED.

The hearing on Allstate's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 30) is continued from September 2, 2010 to October 14, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. The deadlines for opposition and reply, if any, shall be calculated in advance of that continued date in accordance with Local Rule 230(c) and (d).



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