The Middle District of Pennsylvania recently denied a summary judgment motion filed by the Allstate Insurance Company ("Allstate") against its insured for the insured's alleged failure to live on the property. Merlin Law Group attorney Jason Cieri blogged at Court & # 39 ;s Denial of Allstate & # 39 ;s Motion for Judgment on the Pleasings November which you can access here. Now, after considering expert reports and facts obtained during the discovery, the court has decided that this issue can go to trial.
The insured filed a claim with the Allstate in connection with a fire loss that occurred on his property in central Pennsylvania. . Allstate had conducted an investigation into the loss and denied the loss due to:
[M] are representations of facts that are essential to the claim but not limited to erroneous explanations related to residence, property condition prior to fire, ownership of the property and questions regarding tools on the property .
The denial of the insured's claim was based on the results of Allstate's fire expert and a private investigator. The fire expert observed that there was a lack of furnishings on the property, both refrigerators were empty and there was a lack of clothes on the property. The private investigator had interviewed some neighbors who stated that they had never seen anyone live on the property. The denial was also based on testimonies from both the insured and his mother which reflected that he stayed with his mother more often than he lived on the property in question, he had not been on the property for a week before the fire and he had moved out of the property before the fire.
Contrary to Allstate's findings, the insured stated that he kept all his belongings on the property including furniture, slept there "on a nightly basis", renovated the property. , had a driver's license with the property address on it and bought the home from his aunt in 2003.
In weighing the evidence, the court found that Allstate had misunderstood part of the insured's testimony. Allstate had, for example, represented that the insured testified about moving out of the property before the period until the fire. However, the court found that the testimony reflected that he only moved out of the area a little when he went to college and would always return to the property to sleep.
The court also considered other factors that supported the residence permit, such as the insured receiving mail at the property address, stating the property address for income tax, being the only person with keys to the property and consistently referring to the property as "my house" in testimony. [1
A copy of the court decision can be found here.