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Norman E. Schuchman and v. State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Company

July 3, 2012

NORMAN E. SCHUCHMAN AND GLENNA SCHUCHMAN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
STATE AUTO PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court are the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs Norman E. Schuchman and Glenna Schuchman (Collectively, plaintiffs) allege defendant State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Company wrongfully denied their claim for coverage of fire damage to the insured dwelling, 109 W. 14th Street. Defendant states it rightfully denied coverage of the fire damage, as plaintiffs were not residing in 109 W. 14 Street at the time of fire, as required by the express terms of the policy. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS defendant's motion (Doc. 19) and DENIES plaintiffs' motion (Doc. 17).

II. BACKGROUND

The instant dispute arises from fire damage caused to plaintiffs' house, 109 W. 14th Street, Junction City, Illinois, on May 23, 2010. Plaintiff Glenna Schuchman (Glenna)*fn1 purchased the parcel of land on which the subject home is located in 1980. The land consists of eight lots of Block 45 in the Illinois township of Junction City. At the time of purchase, the subject home and two sheds were situated on the property (Doc. 19-1, p. 25).

The home, in which Glenna and eventually her husband, plaintiff Norman E. Schuchman (Norman) initially resided, had a mailing address of Rural Route 1 at the time of Glenna's purchase. In 1988 or 1989, plaintiffs moved a mobile home onto the property where Glenna's mother resided. A year or two later, plaintiffs moved a second mobile home onto the property where Glenna's step-father resided. The mobile homes were assigned a mailing address of Rural Route 2 (Doc. 19-1, pp. 28-29). At some point prior to 1993, the subject house was assigned a mailing address of 109 W. 14th Street, Junction City, Illinois; one mobile home was assigned a street address of 1406 Madison Avenue; the other 1408 Madison Avenue (Doc. 19-1, pp. 29-30). Plaintiffs state a title search of both 1408 Madison Avenue and 109 W. 14th Street reveal the entire tract of land is one contiguous lot (See Doc. 18-1, Ex. G, p. 17). Further, plaintiffs pay taxes based on the property as a whole (Doc. 18-1, Ex. H, p. 20).

In 2000, plaintiffs purchased from defendant, through Hudson-Gray Insurance Agency, Inc., a homeowners insurance policy for 109 W. 14th Street; the terms of which govern the instant dispute. Although plaintiffs admittedly resided at 109 W. 14th Street in 2000, plaintiffs' insurance application lists 1408 Madison Avenue as their mailing address. Plaintiffs' application additionally indicates 109 W. 14th Street as plaintiffs' primary, owner-occupied dwelling. It further indicates plaintiffs do not have any other "residence" (Doc. 19-1, pp. 87-88). Plaintiffs' coverage under the disputed policy continued until the date of the fire.

The relevant provisions of the policy are as follows: DEFINITIONS

A. In this policy, "you" and "your" refer to the "named insured" shown in the Declarations and the spouse if a resident of the same household. "We", "us" and "our" refer to the Company providing this insurance.

B. In addition, certain words and phrases are defined as follows:

11. "Residence premises" means:

a. The one family dwelling where you reside;

b. The two, three or four family dwelling where you reside in at least one of the family units; or

c. That part of any other building where you reside; and which is shown as the "residence premises" in the Declarations. "Residence premises" also includes other structures and grounds at that location.

SECTION I -- PROPERTY COVERAGES

A. Coverage A -- Dwelling

1. We cover:

a. The dwelling on the "residence premises" shown in the Declarations, including structures attached to the dwelling; and

b. Materials and supplies located on or next to the "residence premises" used to construct, alter or repair the dwelling or other ...


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