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Thompson v. Property & Casualty Insurance Co. of Hartford

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 30, 2015

William U. Thompson, Plaintiff,
v.
Property & Casualty Insurance Company of Hartford, Defendants.

ORDER

JAMES A. TEILBORG, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant Property & Casualty Insurance Company of Hartford ("Hartford")'s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 24). The Court now rules on the motion.

I. Background

Hartford issued a homeowners insurance policy (the "Policy") to Plaintiff for the period of February 9, 2009 through February 9, 2010. The Policy excludes coverage for an insured who before or after a loss "(1) intentionally concealed or misrepresented any material fact or circumstance; (2) made false statements of fact which, if known to Hartford, would have caused Hartford not to issue the policy; or (3) engaged in fraudulent conduct relating to the insurance." (Doc. 25 ΒΆ 2).

Plaintiff claimed his home was burglarized between July 24, 2009 and July 31, 2009. He reported the burglary to the Scottsdale Police Department, estimating the value of his stolen items to be approximately $40, 000. In August 2009, Plaintiff submitted a claim to Hartford for his alleged loss, and on October 21, 2009, Hartford received Plaintiff's proof of loss, which listed 465 items that Plaintiff claimed were stolen from his home. Plaintiff valued his loss at $211, 189.

When Hartford investigated Plaintiff's claim, it learned that Plaintiff had made at least ten prior insurance claims, including five prior burglary claims at the same residence. Hartford obtained a recorded statement from Plaintiff. Hartford also took Plaintiff's Examination under Oath ("EUO"). During the EUO, Plaintiff testified to losses that increased the value of his claim to between $353, 189 to $463, 149.

On May 3, 2011, Hartford sent Plaintiff's attorney a letter in which Hartford stated, in part:

We have now completed our investigation and we have determined that there is no coverage under Mr. Thompson's Property & Casualty Insurance Company of Hartford ("Hartford") policy.

(Doc. 25-1 at 156). The letter then extensively detailed the factual circumstances surrounding Hartford's determination of no coverage. ( Id. at 157-69). Finally, the letter concluded:

Based upon our investigation, as noted above, we have determined that Mr. Thompson intentionally concealed or misrepresented material facts and circumstances regarding his claim and therefore coverage under his policy is denied.
If you believe that Hartford has erred in any way in its investigation or analysis, please let us know and we will be happy to consider your position. If you or Mr. Thompson believes you or Mr. Thompson have any other facts or information which would assist us in this matter and cause further consideration, please forward such materials at your earliest convenience and we will consider same. Should you and/or Mr. Thompson feel that Harford's decision is based upon incomplete or inaccurate information, please contact me to discuss the matter further. If any changes occur in the circumstances of this matter, please notify us immediately. All rights, terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy remain in full force and effect and are completely reserved.
There may be other reasons why coverage does not apply and Hartford does not waive its right to contest or deny coverage for any other valid reason that may arise or is later discovered. Hartford reserves the right to bring a declaratory judgment action or other legal action to determine its duties, including, but limited to, whether coverage is, in fact, available under the policy.

( Id. at 169-70).

Plaintiff's counsel wrote to Hartford to ask for a revised decision, indicating that "[m]y client does not accept the decision from your client" and "there is no basis for the Hartford to deny the claim based on intentional concealment or misrepresentation of material facts and circumstances regarding the claim." ( Id. at 181, 183). On September 11, 2012, Hartford sent Plaintiff's counsel a letter in which Hartford concluded that "we have determined that Mr. Thompson intentionally concealed or misrepresented material facts and circumstances regarding his claim and therefore coverage under his policy is denied." ( Id. at 154). Like the first letter, this ...


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