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Liston-Smith v. CSAA Fire & Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 15, 2017

LYNNE LISTON-SMITH, et al. Plaintiff,
v.
CSAA FIRE & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          RULING RE: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO. 30)

          JANET C. HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The plaintiffs, Lynne Liston-Smith and John Smith (collectively “the plaintiffs”), bring this action against their homeowner's insurance provider, CSAA Fire & Casualty Insurance Company (“CSAA”), for CSAA's failure to pay for damage to their basement walls. The Complaint (Doc. No. 1-1) alleges breach of contract (Count One), breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Count Two), and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act (“CUIPA”) and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”). On October 25, 2016, the court dismissed Count Two. See Ruling re Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 19).

         CSAA has moved for summary judgment (Doc No. 30) as to the two remaining counts. For the reasons that follow, CSAA's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

         The plaintiffs have lived at their home in Tolland, Connecticut since 1996. Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement (“L.R. 56(a)1 Stat.”) (Doc. No. 32) at ¶¶ 2, 12. Plaintiffs' home is insured by CSAA. Id. at ¶ 3. Around late summer or fall of 2014, John Smith (“Smith”) noticed cracks in his basement wall and alerted his wife, Lynne Liston-Smith (“Liston-Smith”). John Smith Depo. (Oct. 14, 2016), Ex. C to L.R. 56(a)1 Stat. (Doc. No. 32-3) at 7. In August of 2015, the plaintiffs hired an engineer, William Neal, to inspect the cracks in the foundation of their home. Lynne Liston-Smith Depo. (Oct. 14, 2016), Ex. D to L.R. 56(a)1 Stat. (Doc. No. 32-4) at 10. Neal determined that a defect in the concrete, which he later determined to be a chemical reaction, was causing cracks in the walls that would continue to grow until the structure became unstable. William Neal Depo. (Dec. 1, 2016), Ex. E (Doc. No. 32-5) at 12-13.[2] Neal recommended that the concrete foundation be replaced. Id. at 14.

         On September 2, 2015, the plaintiffs made a claim to CSAA for damages the chemical reaction had caused to their foundation. L.R. 56(a)1 Stat. at ¶ 13. In a letter dated October 12, 2015, CSAA denied plaintiffs coverage under their home insurance policy (“the Policy”). Id. at ¶ 16.

         “Coverage A - Dwelling” in the Policy applies to plaintiffs' home. CSAA Pol'y, Ex. B to L.R. 56(a)1 Stat. (Doc. No. 32-2) at 6. In “Section I - Perils Insured Against, ” the Policy states, in pertinent part:

         We insure against risk of direct physical loss to property described in Coverages A, B and C.

         We do not insure, however, for loss:

A. Under Coverages A, B and C:
1. Excluded under Section I - Exclusions;
2. Caused by: . . .
e. Any of the following:
1. Wear and tear, marring, deterioration;
2. Mechanical breakdown, latent defect, inherent vice, or any quality in property that causes it to damage or destroy itself; . . .
6. Settling, shrinking, bulging or expansion, including resultant cracking, of bulkheads, pavements, patios, footings, foundations, walls, floors, roofs or ceilings . . .

Id. at 13-14.

         In “Section I - Exclusions, ” the policy states, in relevant part:

         B. We do not insure for loss to property described in Coverages A and B caused by any of the following. However, any ensuing loss to property described in Coverages A and B not precluded by any other provision in this policy is covered . . . .

         3. Faulty, inadequate or defective:

a. Planning, zoning, development, surveying, siting;
b. Design, specifications, workmanship, repair, construction, renovation, remodeling, grading, compaction;
c. Materials used in repair, construction, renovation or remodeling; or
d. Maintenance; of part or all of any property whether on or off the ...

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