United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ELBERT CALHOUN, CUTRICE CALHOUN, MALACHI CALHOUN, ELBERT CALHOUN IV JALEEL CALHOUN, and JAVAUN CALHOUN, Plaintiffs,
THE PROVIDENCE MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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).
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
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.
Breach of Contract Claim
Mutual argues that the Calhouns' insurance claim for mold
is not covered under the unambiguous language of the Policy.
The Court agrees.
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 ...