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Varner v. The State Farm Fire & Casualty Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 21, 2017

Nancy Varner, Plaintiff,
v.
The State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, Defendant.

          Stephanie Dawkins Davis U.S. Magistrate Judge.

          ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [6]

          Arthur J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Nancy Varner filed this action in Wayne County Circuit Court on March 11, 2016 alleging claims of breach of contract (Count I) and misrepresentation and fraud (Count II) against Defendants State Farm Fire & Casualty Company (“State Farm”) and C Knight Insurance Agency (“C Knight”). Defendant C Knight was dismissed on January 6, 2017. Defendant State Farm removed the case to this Court on January 11, 2017.

         On April 4, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [6]. Plaintiff filed a Response [7] on April 20, 2017. Defendant filed its Reply [8] on May 1, 2017.

         A hearing was held on the Motion on December 7, 2017. Per the Court's request at the hearing, Defendant filed a Supplemental Memorandum [10] on December 13, 2017 and Plaintiff filed a Response to the Memorandum [11] on December 17, 2017.

         For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED in part with respect to Count I and GRANTED in part with respect to Count II.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff has been living at 17691 Hamilton since 1978 and has been insured with Defendant since 1991. As of 2013, Plaintiff received homeowners' insurance coverage through Defendant's agent, C Knight.

         In pertinent part, Section I - Additional Coverages, ¶ 11 of the applicable Insurance Policy (“Policy”) provides:

Collapse. We insure only for direct physical loss to property involving the sudden, entire collapse of a building or any part of a building. Collapse means actually fallen down or fallen into pieces. It does not include settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging, expansion, sagging or bowing. The collapse must be directly and immediately caused only by one of more of the following . . . (e) weight of ice, snow, sleet or rain which collects on a roof . . . .

         Furthermore, Section I - Conditions, ¶ 6 of the Policy provides:

Suits Against Us. No action shall be brought unless there has been compliance with the policy provisions. The action must be started within one year after the date of loss or damage. In the event a claim is formally denied, in whole or in part, the period of time in which a suit or action may be commenced against the company is extended by the number of days between the date the notice of the loss is provided to the company and the date the claim is formally denied.

         On or about February 28, 2014, [1] while the Policy was in force, Plaintiff suffered a loss that she submits was caused by snow and ice accumulation on the roof of her home. Amend. Compl. at ¶ 13. Plaintiff alleges that the weight of the snow caused beams supporting the columns on the basement wall, exterior wall, second floor, and roof to collapse. Id.

         Plaintiff does not recall the exact date that she discovered the damage to her home. In February 2014, Plaintiff began to notice cracks in the walls. Also in 2014, Plaintiff hired a company to repair the roof. Sometime prior to June 4, 2015, Plaintiff noticed that three sliding doors in her home were not working properly.

         Plaintiff notified Defendant of the damage to her home on June 4, 2015. Plaintiff acknowledged that she alerted Defendant of the damage several months after the damage actually occurred. Plaintiff testified that she did not give Defendant immediate notice of the damage because of her husband's passing on December 14, 2013.

         On July 13, 2015, Defendant's representative, David Walegna, conducted an inspection of the property. Walegna concluded that the structural damage was the “result of multiple latent construction defects individually or in concert” and there was “no proximate causal relationship between observed ...


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