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Discuillo v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 3, 2018

ELAINE DISCUILLO, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION TO COMPEL APPRAISAL AND STAY LITIGATION

          Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

         Elaine Discuillo brings this suit against her homeowner's insurance provider, Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”), for breach of contract. (ECF No. 1-1.) Specifically, Discuillo alleges two counts against Allstate in her revised complaint: (1) demanding “Specific Performance” of the appraisal provision in the insurance policy (the “Policy”), (ECF No. 24 at ¶¶ 1-11); and (2) “Breach of Contract” for allegedly refusing to pay Discuillo for losses to her property (id. at ¶¶ 11-13). Discuillo moves to compel appraisal and stay this action based on “Connecticut General Statutes § 52-410 and the insurance policy that is the subject of this action.” (ECF No. 38 at 1.) Allstate opposes the motion, arguing: (1) that the parties' dispute concerns coverage issues while the appraisal clause concerns valuation issues, and that their dispute thus falls outside of the appraisal clause (ECF No. 39 at 5-7); and (2) that Discuillo waived any right to compel appraisal by participating in discovery and motion practice in this lawsuit for over a year before filing the motion to compel (id. at 7-8).

         Because I agree with Allstate's second argument, I DENY the motion and do not address the first argument.

         I. Background

         A. Relevant Facts

         The following facts are taken from Discuillo's revised complaint, the parties' briefs, and the attached exhibits.

         On February 10, 2015, while Discuillo “was insured under a homeowner's property insurance policy issued by [Allstate] [(the “Policy”)], . . . a snow and/or ice storm caused damage to [Discuillo's] home and personal property.” (ECF No. 24 at ¶ 3-4 (alteration in original).) On April 26, 2016, Discuillo “submitted an insurance claim under the Policy to Allstate” for the alleged property damage. (ECF No. 39 at 1.)

         On May 13, 2016, Allstate sent “Allstate adjuster Dale Laprise . . . [to] inspect[] the property to identify various categories of claimed damage to the interior and exterior of the property.” (ECF No. 39 at 2.) Laprise concluded that the following areas of Discuillo's home- the areas with interior water damage caused by ice damming, (id.)-were covered under the Policy: front left bedroom, front right bedroom, hall bathroom, hallway, main upper roof, and right lower roof (ECF No. 38-1, Ex. 3 at 91-96). Laprise estimated the “replacement cost value” for those areas to be $9, 077.36. (Id. at 98.) After Allstate applied “the Policy's $750 deductible and a deduction for recoverable depreciation” (ECF No. 39 at 2), it issued a payment to Discuillo in the amount of $4, 591.64 (ECF No. 38 at ¶ 5). “Laprise wrote to [Discuillo] to deny her claim for damage to the exterior trim, siding, mold, master bathroom skylight, garage duct work leak, and basement based on certain exclusions in the Policy.” (ECF No. 39 at 2.)

         After concluding that “a potential exist[ed] for a difference of opinion on the damages” (ECF No. 38, Ex. 4), “[Discuillo] demanded appraisal of [her] claim . . . and appointed Catastrophe Services, Inc. as her appraiser.” (ECF No. 38 at ¶ 6.) The Policy provides, in relevant part:

If you and we fail to agree on the amount of loss, either party may make a written demand for an appraisal. Upon such demand, each party must select a competent and impartial appraiser and notify the other of the appraiser's identity within 20 days after the demand is received. The appraisers will select a competent and impartial umpire. If the appraisers are unable to agree upon an umpire within 15 days, you or we can ask a judge of a court of record in the state where the residence premises is located to select an umpire.
The appraisers shall then determine the amount of loss, stating separately the actual cash value and the amount of loss to each item. If the appraisers submit a written report of agreement to you and to us the amount agreed upon shall be the amount of loss. If they cannot agree, they will submit their differences to the umpire. A written award agreed upon by any two will determine the amount of loss.

(ECF No. 38-1, Ex. 1 at 39.) Allstate informed Discuillo, however, that her “demand for appraisal was premature given [her] failure to provide Allstate with documents relevant to her claim.” (ECF No. 39 at 3; ECF No. 39-2 at 3.) Discuillo then “provided [Allstate] an estimate to repair said damage in the amount of $101, 201.38.” (ECF No. 38 at ¶ 4; see ECF No. 39-3 at 2-3.) Upon receiving Discuillo's estimate, Allstate informed her that it “disagreed with the estimate on both coverage and valuation grounds.” (ECF No. 39 at 3; ECF No. 39-3 at 2.)

         Allstate proposed a “limited-scope appraisal” “to address those issues for which the parties agreed there was coverage under the Policy.” (ECF No 39-3 at 2.) On September 14, 2016, Discuillo, through her prior counsel, declined, stating that “[w]e have determined this claim will not be handled via the appraisal process as it is not appropriate in this case.” (ECF No. 39-4 at 2.)[1]

         B. Proce ...


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