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Carlson v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 27, 2017

GLENN R. CARLSON, and NANCY E. CARLSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY. Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MICHAEL P. SHEA, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiffs Glenn R. Carlson and Nancy E. Carlson (collectively, “the Carlsons” or “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against their homeowner's insurance provider, Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”), for failure to pay for damages to their home caused by cracking concrete. Plaintiffs filed their complaint on July 8, 2015, bringing claims of breach of contract (Count One) and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Count Two). (ECF No. 1.) On July 9, 2015, Plaintiffs added a claim for unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 38a-816 et seq. (“CUIPA”) and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110a et seq. (“CUTPA”) (Count Three). (ECF No. 7.)

         On December 15, 2016, Allstate moved for summary judgment with respect to the breach of contract claim on the grounds that the insurance policy at issue did not cover the alleged damage. (ECF No. 37.) Allstate also moved for summary judgment with respect to the remaining claims on the grounds that those claims cannot be maintained in the absence of a breach of contract claim, or, in the alternative, on the grounds that the undisputed facts do not support a claim that Allstate acted in bad faith or engaged in unfair practices in connection with the Carlsons' insurance claim. (Id.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. Factual Background

         The following facts, which are taken from the parties' Local Rule 56(a) Statements and the exhibits, are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.

         The Carlsons have lived in the property located at 399 North Road, Ashford Connecticut (“the Property”) since 1991. (ECF No. 42 ¶ 1.) Allstate has insured the Property under separate insurance policies (“the Policies”), each effective for a one-year term, since May 30, 1991, and continuing through July 30, 2016. (Id. ¶ 2.)

         The Carlsons noticed cracking in their foundation walls beginning in approximately 2011 or 2012. (Id. ¶ 3; ECF No. 38-4 at 10.) In the fall of 2014, after hearing rumors about issues with concrete in the area, Mr. Carlson asked Irwin “Jake” Stevenson, a neighbor and the contractor who had installed the Carlson's foundation, to inspect the foundation walls. (Id. ¶ 4; ECF No. 38-4 at 11-12.) After inspecting the foundation walls, Stevenson told Ms. Carlson that there was a problem with the concrete. (ECF No. 42 ¶ 4) In mid-September 2014, the Carlsons hired an engineer, Silva, to inspect the foundation. (Id.) Silva inspected the foundation and issued a report, dated November 17, 2014, identifying “varying levels of gypsum chalking, map cracking, and concrete surface discoloration” in the foundation walls. (Id. ¶ 5.)

         On March 31, 2015, the Carlsons submitted a claim for coverage for the damage to the concrete basement walls of their home. (Id. ¶ 6.) On April 10, 2015, an Allstate claims representative conducted an initial inspection of the Property. (Id. ¶ 7.) On April 27, 2015, an engineer retained by Allstate inspected the Property and drilled core samples from the Carlsons' foundation walls for analysis. (Id.) Allstate denied the Carlsons' claim by letter dated June 19, 2015. (Id. ¶ 8.)

         The Carlsons' Policies state, in relevant part:[1]

Losses We Cover Under Coverages A and B:
We will cover sudden and accidental direct physical loss to property described in Coverage A - Dwelling Protection and Coverage B - Other Structures Protection except as limited or excluded in this policy.[2]

(ECF No. 38-1 at 11.)

Under, “Losses We Do Not Cover Under Coverages A and B, ” the Policies provide:
We do not cover loss to the property described in Coverage A - Dwelling Protection or Coverage B - Other Structures Protection consisting of or caused by:
4. Water or any other substance on or below the surface of the ground, regardless of its source. This includes water or any other substance which exerts pressure on, or flows, seeps or leaks through any part of the residence premises. . . . 12. Collapse, except as specifically provided in Section I - Additional Protection under item 11, ‘Collapse.'[3]
. . .
In addition, we do not cover loss consisting of or caused by any of the following:
15. a) wear and tear, aging, marring, scratching, deterioration, inherent vice, or latent defect; . . .
d) rust or other corrosion, mold, wet or dry rot;[4]
. . .
g) settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging or expansion of pavements, patios, foundations, walls, floors, roofs or ceilings;
. . .
22. Planning, Construction or Maintenance, meaning faulty, inadequate or defective:
. . .
b) design, specifications, workmanship, repair, construction, renovation, remodeling, grading, compaction;
c) materials used in repair, construction, renovation or remodeling; or
d) maintenance; of property whether on or off the residence premises by any person or organization.

(ECF No. 42 ¶¶ 9-10, 13; ECF No. 38-1 at 11-13.)[5]

Under the section titled, “Section I - Additional Protection, ” the Policies provide:
11. Collapse
We will ...

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