United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT  AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [16
J. MICHELSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Town was robbed and vandalized in November 2015. Meat Town
then lost its remaining property in a fire in December 2015.
Meat Town submitted two claims (one for the robbery and
vandalism, one for the fire) to its insurer, Sentinel
Insurance Company. The robbery and vandalism claim included
tens-of-thousands of dollars in damaged or stolen meat
products. After an investigation, Sentinel was skeptical. In
the insurance company's view, some of the claimed damaged
or stolen meat had never been delivered to Meat Town. So
Sentinel did not pay that claim (or the fire one). Meat Town
eventually sued. Sentinel now seeks summary judgment on the
basis that Meat Town's insurance claims included material
misrepresentations and thus, the insurance policy is void.
The Court agrees with Sentinel to the extent set out below.
the winter of 2015, Meat Town had been in business for over
20 years. As its name suggests, Meat Town stored and sold
large quantities of meat-everything from chicken wing-dings
to hog maws. The meat was displayed in and around the north,
south, and east meat counters.
three counters were located in a large retail area. The
entire retail area was refrigerated with the aid of, among
other things, ceiling-mounted evaporator coils. (See
ECF No. 15, PageID.223, 333, 334.) The picture below gives a
sense of one of the meat counters, the surrounding food, and
the ceiling-mounted evaporator coils.
No. 15, PageID.334.) In addition to the three counters, Meat
Town stored and sold meat in two display freezers-the north
freezer and the west freezer. (ECF No. 15, PageID.263, 266.)
fall of 2015, Meat Town was facing some financial
difficulties. In particular, on September 4, 2015, a state
court entered a judgment of possession in favor of Meat
Town's landlord (JAM Properties, Inc.) because Meat Town
owed $12, 000 in rent. (ECF No. 15, PageID.361.) Meat Town
was also behind on paying its electric bill. Meat Town
suggests that it had inadvertently failed to pay the bill
(ECF No. 15, PageID.366), but other evidence suggests that
Meat Town lacked the funds to pay the electric company.
Indeed, Meat Town's bank account had $450, $1, 914,
-$870, and -$570 at the start of August, September, October,
and November 2015, respectively. (ECF No. 15, PageID.121,
126, 131, 137.) But whether due to inadvertence or inability
to pay, the bottom line is that Meat Town owed the electric
company at least $3, 000 by November 2015. (ECF No. 16,
PageID.976-977.) And because Meat Town had not paid its bill,
the electric company shut off Meat Town's power around
noon on November 10, 2015. (ECF No. 15, PageID.193.)
that very day, Meat Town was vandalized and robbed.
next day, November 11, 2015, Meat Town retained Claim
Consultants International to help it figure out what had been
destroyed and what had been stolen. According to a detailed
“Summary of Loss” statement prepared by CCI on
Meat Town's behalf, meat and other food in and around the
three counters and in the two freezers was “covered
with glass and debris.” (ECF No. 15, PageID.218.) The
value of this unsalable food was about $52, 000.
(Id.) The Summary of Loss further asserted that the
perpetrators stole another $63, 000 in meat. (ECF No. 15,
PageID.218.) Further, the Summary of Loss stated that the
cost to replace or repair damaged equipment, including the
ceiling-mounted evaporator coils that the perpetrators
allegedly vandalized, was nearly $190, 000. (Id.) In
all, Meat Town (via the Summary of Loss) claimed $307, 000 in
losses. (ECF No. 15, PageID.218.)
went from bad to worse for Meat Town. After the November 10
vandalism and robbery, Meat Town did not reopen for business.
(ECF No. 15, PageID.158.) Then, on December 19, 2015, there
was a break-in and a fire. (ECF No. 15, PageID.281.) The fire
destroyed Meat Town's remaining property. Although the
cause of the fire was initially unknown, an insurance
investigator later found that the cause was arson. (ECF No.
16, PageID.885; ECF No. 15, PageID.289.) Meat Town again
retained CCI to help it itemize its losses. (ECF No. 15,
December 24, 2015, Meat Town submitted its summary of loss
for the vandalism and robbery to its insurer, Sentinel
Insurance Company, Ltd. (See ECF No. 16, PageID.629,
999.) And on March 7, 2016, Meat Town submitted its claim
based on the fire to Sentinel. (See ECF No. 16,
did not decide whether it would pay the two claims for a long
time. But the insurance policy Sentinel issued Meat Town only
gave the meat company two years to sue over an unpaid claim.
So, at right around two years after the vandalism and
robbery, Meat Town filed this lawsuit. (See ECF No.
seeks summary judgment on several grounds. (See ECF
No. 15.) As will become apparent, the only ground that the
Court needs to address is Sentinel's claim that every
reasonable jury would find that Meat Town intentionally