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Court of Appeals of Washington, Division Two
October 4, 2002, Filed
[**1267] [*800] Bridgewater, J. -- Allstate Insurance Company appeals the grant of summary judgment and attorney fees in favor of the plaintiff, Harry Graff, an Allstate policyholder, on his breach of contract claim. After a tenant's methamphetamine laboratory damaged his rental house, Graff filed a [*801] claim with Allstate for his cleanup expenses. Allstate denied Graff's claim, citing the policy's contamination exclusion. We hold that operation of a methamphetamine laboratory is vandalism, a covered event under the policy, and the claim is not barred due to the contamination exclusion. We affirm.
Graff owns a house in the city of Tacoma, which he rented to Steven Miller during the fall of 1999. In November 1999, Tacoma police officers executed search warrants for [***2] Miller's vehicles and residence, i.e., Graff's rental house.
Miller's vehicles "contained evidence of the illegal manufacturing of methamphetamine." Clerk's Papers (CP) at 68. The house contained "a quantity of suspected methamphetamine, documents in [Miller's] name . . . , drug paraphernalia, a respirator, a chemistry book, and a . . . to do list that stated 'toluene clean up'." CP at 72. Police officers also found several baggies that field tested positive for methamphetamine. A woman found hiding in the house stated that Miller had manufactured methamphetamine in the attic but moved his lab to another location earlier that day.
Graff went to the house the day after the search; he saw no visible damage from Miller's methamphetamine lab, only doors that the police broke during the search. But the city of Tacoma inspected the house, found it unsanitary because it was used as a methamphetamine lab, and classified it as "derelict." CP at 14-18. Consequently, Graff could not rent the house until he remedied the situation.
Graff repaired the house at his own expense. He replaced the carpet, painted, and hired an environmental firm to clean up the methamphetamine [***3] residue. In January 2000, the city of Tacoma notified Graff that the repairs were satisfactory. Graff then filed a claim with Allstate for reimbursement of his cleanup expenses. Allstate denied the claim, advising Graff that his insurance policy excluded "contamination" as a cause of loss. CP at 30-31, 82.
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113 Wn. App. 799 *; 54 P.3d 1266 **; 2002 Wash. App. LEXIS 2430 ***
HARRY GRAFF, Respondent, v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant.
Subsequent History: [***1]
Review denied by, Motion granted by Graff v. Allstate Ins. Co., 149 Wn.2d 1013, 70 P.3d 964, 2003 Wash. LEXIS 408 (Wash., May 28, 2003)
contamination, vandalism, methamphetamine, coverage, malicious mischief, attorney's fees, insurance policy, tenant, methamphetamine lab, rental house, basement, peril
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Summary Judgment Review, General Overview, Standards of Review, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Burdens of Proof, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Insurance Law, Claim, Contract & Practice Issues, Policy Interpretation, Question of Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Acts & Mental States, Mens Rea, Willfulness, Remedies, Costs & Attorney Fees, Failure to Defend