from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Superior
Court No. 3AN-12-11530 CI Third Judicial District, Anchorage,
William F. Morse, Judge.
W. Markham, Friday Harbor, Washington, for Appellant.
L. Graves, Farley & Graves, P.C., Anchorage, for
Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, Bolger, and
seaman sued his former employer and the former employer's
liability insurer, claiming that the insurer had failed to
pay him amounts due under the terms of a settlement
agreement. The seaman asserted that the "policy
limits" settlement included both the policy's stated
limits and attorney's fees calculated under Alaska Civil
Rule 82. The insurer, relying on the policy's notice that
fees were included in the policy limits, argued that the
settlement had been fully satisfied. The parties also
disagreed about whether costs from a review of the
seaman's medical bills were properly counted against the
policy limits. After contentious discovery, the superior
court granted summary judgment for the insurer, finding that
the policy's Rule 82 notice was valid and that the
settlement had been satisfied. The court awarded
attorney's fees to the insurer as the prevailing party.
seaman appeals the grant of summary judgment, the denial of
some discovery, and the award of attorney's fees. We
affirm the superior court's summary judgment and
discovery rulings except with regard to whether the costs of
the medical review were properly deducted from the policy
limits; we conclude that issues of fact precluded summary
judgment on this issue. We reverse summary judgment only as
to that issue, vacate the attorney's fees award, and
remand for further proceedings.
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
Blair was injured in August 2008 while working onboard the
F/V Invincible, a vessel owned and operated by Charles Fogle.
Fogle held a policy of marine insurance issued by Federal
Insurance Company. The policy's liability limit was
"$ 1, 000, 000 Each Vessel... [for] Any One Accident or
Occurrence." It also contained a notice, headed,
"THIS POLICY LIMITS COVERAGE FOR ATTORNEY FEES
UNDER ALASKA RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 82," which
summarized Alaska Civil Rule 82 and explained that "[i]f the
limit of liability of the applicable coverage is $ 1, 000,
000 or more, we will not pay or indemnify you for any
combination of judgment or claim settlement and attorney fees
under Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure [sic] that exceeds the
limit of liability of the applicable coverage."
and Federal, through their lawyers, negotiated over the
course of several months and then reached a settlement
agreement. Neither party discussed Rule 82 fees or the
policy's Rule 82 notice during these negotiations. From
the outset, however, the parties disagreed about the sum of
$2, 268.78 paid to Mahl's Medical Review, a company that
reviews medical bills in order to help "insurers save
money by identifying and eliminating inaccurate, duplicate[,
] and unwarranted charges." Blair contended that the sum
should not be deducted from the policy limits because
Mahl's was engaged to lower costs for Federal's
benefit, not Blair's. Our record shows no clear
resolution of this issue during the negotiations.
parties signed their settlement agreement on December 27,
2009. The agreement reads, in part:
I, DANNY BLAIR, in exchange for the remaining policy limits
under the vessel's $1, 000, 000 P&I [protection and
indemnity] policy do hereby release and forever discharge
Charles Fogle .... The P&I underwriter has calculated the
remaining policy limits at $961, 447.81 and will pay that
amount upon execution of this release. Mr.
Blair reserves the right to claim additional amounts which he
contends may be part of the policy limits, including any
unpaid deductible.  The vessel owner and vessel's
insurers do not agree that additional sums are due but if
these sums are determined to be due as properly part of the
P&I limits under this policy they will be paid.
Federal paid the specified sum of $961, 447.81 to Blair.
three years later-on December 11, 2012-Blair filed suit
against Federal. He alleged that Federal had breached the
settlement agreement by paying "substantially less"
than the remaining policy limits, though his complaint did
not identify what had not been paid. In May 2013 he filed a
motion for partial summary judgment that clarified his claim.
He argued that "[i]n arriving at its 'remaining
policy limits' calculation Federal failed to address its
obligation for [Rule] 82 attorney fees." Although
acknowledging the existence of the Rule 82 notice in the
policy, Blair contended that the notice did not comply with
governing regulations of the Alaska Division of Insurance and
was therefore void. Thus, Blair argued, the policy limits
were the $ 1 million face value of the policy, less amounts
already paid, plus Rule 82 attorney's fees. Blair also
argued that Federal had improperly deducted the Mahl's
bill from the policy limits.
cross-moved for summary judgment, arguing that the
policy's Rule 82 notice was valid and that the settlement
was for the sum certain of $961, 447.81, which it had
promptly paid. Blair then moved under Alaska Civil Rule 56(f)
for a continuance to conduct additional discovery, and the
continuance was granted.
period of contentious discovery followed, in which the
superior court conducted in camera review of some documents
Federal claimed were privileged, ordered production of some
requested documents but not others, and denied a motion to
compel brought by Blair. The court then granted summary
judgment in favor of Federal. It found that Federal's
Rule 82 notice was lawful because it conformed with the
standards imposed by the Division of Insurance. It also
"construe[d] the Release to mean that parties completely
settled the claim against the P&I policy by having
Federal pay Blair $961, 447.81." The court awarded
Federal, as the prevailing party, Rule 82 attorney's fees
appeals the superior court's orders granting
Federal's cross-motion for summary judgment, denying his
discovery motion, and awarding Rule 82 attorney's fees to
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review a grant of summary judgment de novo. "We will
affirm a grant of summary judgment if there are no genuine
issues of material fact and if the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law." We draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.
review a superior court's discovery rulings, including
decisions about "discovery sanctions, such as spoliation
remedies, for abuse of discretion." We will find an
abuse of discretion upon a showing that a decision was
"arbitrary, capricious, manifestly unreasonable, or
stemmed from improper motive."
the superior court applied the appropriate legal standard in
awarding attorney's fees is a question of law that we
review de novo.
The Superior Court Did Not Err By Entering Summary Judgment
Against Blair On The Issue Whether Federal Owed Rule 82
Attorney's Fees Under The Settlement.
first address whether Federal's Rule 82 notice is valid
and enforceable. Concluding that it is, we consider whether
there is any other basis on which Blair could believe that
the parties' settlement agreement entitled him to
attorney's fees beyond the policy limits; we conclude
there is not and that the superior court properly granted
summary judgment on this issue.
Federal's Rule 82 notice conformed to the notices