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Bernbaum v. Standard Fire Insurance Co.

February 23, 2009

L. HARRISON BERNBAUM AND DR. KEITH SCHRODER, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE STANDARD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. Manning United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiffs L. Harrison Bernbaum and Keith Schroder own a Farr 395 racing sailboat named Chaos, and seek to recover for alleged property loss under the first-party property portion of a marine insurance policy issued by defendant The Standard Fire Insurance Company. Standard Fire contends that the plaintiffs' suit is untimely and that it is entitled to summary judgment. For the following reasons, Standard Fire's motion is granted.

I. Background

A. The Parties

L. Harrison Bernbaum and Keith Schroder are Illinois citizens, and Standard Fire is a Connecticut corporation with its principal place of business in Connecticut.*fn1 The damage to Chaos exceeds $75,000.

B. The Insurance Policy

Standard Fire insured Chaos under a policy of marine insurance, Policy No. 945707517-840-1 ("Policy"), with effective dates of January 1, 2006, to January 1, 2007. Bermbaum is the named insured on the Policy, and Schroder is an additional named insured. The Policy's amendatory endorsement contains a one-year contractual suit limitation clause that provides:

SUIT AGAINST US

No action will be brought against us unless there has been full compliance with all policy provisions. Such action must be started within one year after the loss or damage occurs, plus a period of time equal to the number of days from the date when the proof of loss is filed until the date the claim is denied in whole or in part.

The plaintiffs never filed a proof of loss with Standard Fire.

The Policy also contains a contractual non-waiver provision that provides: RESERVATION OF RIGHTS When we investigate, compromise, or pay any claim, it shall not be construed to admit liability either by you or us.

C. The Damage to Chaos

It is undisputed that an "internal structural component of the sailboat" failed during the summer of 2006. The parties point to two possible dates, although they disagree as to when the damage actually occurred: (1) on or about July 23, 2006, when Chaos encountered heavy weather conditions and rough seas while participating in the annual race from Chicago to Mackinac Island; and/or (2) during a two-day regatta near Milwaukee that began on August 12, 2006. The plaintiffs did not have Chaos professionally inspected ...


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