Coast to Coast Seafood v. Assurances Generales de France

50 P.3d 662 (2002)

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Coast to Coast Seafood v. Assurances Generales de France

Washington Court of Appeals
50 P.3d 662 (2002)

Facts

Coast to Coast Seafood, Inc. (Coast to Coast) (plaintiff) purchased 24 containers of shrimp from various suppliers in Thailand. Coast to Coast’s maritime-insurance policy provided that (1) coverage would begin when goods left the warehouse (warehouse-to-warehouse clause) and (2) goods were insured against all land and transit risks other than preshipment conditions (all-risks clause). Additionally, the policy’s unexplained-shortages clause insured against certain losses due to the theft of goods that were shipped in sealed containers. The containers departed from Thailand (either Bangkok or Laem Chabang) and were transported by multiple vessels to Taiwan, South Korea, or Singapore on different dates for loading on ships that would transport the containers to California. Only three of the containers traveled directly to California from Thailand. The bills of lading for all the containers described the contents, and many of the bills stated the shipment weights but added disclaimers indicating that the shippers provided the weights. Upon delivery, Coast to Coast discovered that many of the containers, which arrived sealed, contained either seafood other than shrimp or thinly packed shrimp of poor quality. Coast to Coast filed a claim with Assurances Generales de France and its other insurers (underwriters) (defendants), which denied the claim. Coast to Coast sued the underwriters. Both sides moved for summary judgment. Per the underwriters, the warehouse-to-warehouse clause required Coast to Coast to show that the losses occurred in transit, which Coast to Coast failed to do. Coast to Coast responded that the unexplained-losses clause (1) broadened the all-risks clause to embrace losses potentially caused before transit and (2) covered losses due to nonexistent cargo. The trial court granted summary judgment to Coast to Coast. The underwriters appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Coleman, J.)

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