Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Calhoun v. The Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 2, 2016

ELBERT CALHOUN, CUTRICE CALHOUN, MALACHI CALHOUN, ELBERT CALHOUN IV JALEEL CALHOUN, and JAVAUN CALHOUN, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE PROVIDENCE MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant

          RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs Elbert and Cutrice Calhoun, along with their six children, (the “Calhouns”) have sued the Defendant, Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company (“Providence Mutual”), alleging eight claims of breach of contract, bad faith, and negligence. Pls. Am. Compl., ECF No. 15.

         Count One of the Amended Complaint alleges that Providence Mutual breached its contract with the Calhouns by denying their insurance claim relating to mold damage at the insured premises. Count Two alleges that Providence Mutual denied the claim in bad faith by failing to report the presence of mold to the Calhouns, even though Providence Mutual knew that mold was present in their home. Counts Three through Eight of the Amended Complaint allege that Providence Mutual was negligent in not reporting the presence of mold to the Calhouns and, as a result, caused the Calhouns to be exposed to mold and suffer potentially permanent respiratory illness and pain. Providence Mutual moved for summary judgment, claiming that denial of coverage was appropriate because the stated loss was not covered by the terms of the applicable insurance policy. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 27] is GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

         Elbert Calhoun and Cutrice Calhoun had a homeowner's insurance policy (“the Policy”) with the Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company (“Providence Mutual”), for 138 Canton Street in West Haven, Connecticut (the “insured premises”) from May 5, 2011 through May 5, 2012.

         On October 3, 2011, the Calhouns reported a claim to Providence Mutual relating to a boiler at the insured premises. Providence Mutual sent an independent adjuster, Ron Kirkpatrick of LeMarche Adjusters, to investigate the claim. While inspecting the boiler in the basement of the insured premises, Mr. Kirkpatrick noted the presence of what appeared to be mold on the wall and ceiling near the boiler. In his report for the claim related to the boiler, Mr. Kirkpatrick noted the following in the Adverse Risk Conditions section of the report: “there is evidence of water intrusion into the partially finished basement … there is also visible mold on some wall surfaces.” Def. 56(a)(1) Statement ¶ 3, ECF No. 27-2. The Calhouns assert that neither Mr. Kirkpatrick nor Providence Mutual informed Plaintiffs of the mold at the time of the boiler inspection.

         In or about April of 2012, after the Calhouns allegedly discovered the presence of mold in their home for the first time, they made a claim for mold damage at the insured premises. Providence Mutual again sent Mr. Kirkpatrick to investigate the Calhouns' claim, this time related to the mold damage. After inspecting the property, Mr. Kirkpatrick compiled his findings in a letter dated May 2, 2012. In his letter to the Calhouns, Mr. Kirkpatrick explained that the mold was caused by a pair of leaky faucets, and that it appeared to him that the faucets had been leaking for an extended period of time. See Kirkpatrick Letter, ECF No. 27-7 (Def. Exh. 4). Providence Mutual subsequently denied the mold claim because the mold was not caused by a “Peril Insured Against” as required by the Policy and because the insured failed to take reasonable measures to protect the property from further damage at the time of the underlying loss. Id.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate where the court is satisfied that there is, “no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The burden of establishing the nonexistence of a “genuine issue” is on the party moving for summary judgment, and the inferences and ambiguities to be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(a), the nonmoving party must produce specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014).

         Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no "genuine issue for trial, " and the motion for summary judgment should be granted in favor of the moving party. Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Providence Mutual argues that the unambiguous terms of the Policy required the denial of the Calhouns' insurance claim for mold. Providence Mutual also argues that, as a matter of law, it did not owe the Calhouns a duty to inform them of its initial discovery of mold at the insured premises. The Calhouns disagree, arguing instead that their loss is covered under the Policy and that Providence Mutual acted in bad faith and with negligence by failing to notify them about its previous discovery of mold at the insured premises.

         A. Breach of Contract Claim

         Providence Mutual argues that the Calhouns' insurance claim for mold is not covered under the unambiguous language of the Policy. The Court agrees.

         “It is the function of the court to construe the provisions of the contract of insurance.” Gottesman v. Aetna Ins. Co.,177 Conn. 631, 634 (1979). The “[i]nterpretation of an insurance policy, like the interpretation of other written contracts, involves a determination of the intent of the parties as expressed by the language of the policy.” Aetna Life & Casualty Co. v. Bulaong,218 Conn. 51, 58 (1991). “The determinative question is the intent of the parties … as disclosed by the provisions of the policy… The policy words must be accorded their natural and ordinary meaning ... [and] any ambiguity in the terms of an insurance policy ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.