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Cleaners v. Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 24, 2019

RAVINIA VOGUE CLEANERS, Plaintiff,
v.
TRAVELERS CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Sharon Johnson Coleman Judge

         Ravinia Vogue Cleaners brings this suit against Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America alleging breach of contract and unreasonable conduct for violating the parties' insurance agreement. Currently before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons explained below, Travelers' [42] motion is granted and Ravinia Cleaners' [49] motion is denied.

         Background

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. Travelers is a corporation with its principal place of business in Connecticut. Ravinia Cleaners is a business organization located in Illinois. Travelers issued an insurance policy to Ravinia Cleaners (“the Policy”) covering property damage, effective from July 7, 2014 to July 7, 2015. The Policy provided coverage to a building in Highland Park, Illinois where Ravinia Cleaners operated its dry-cleaning business. The Policy included certain exclusions to which it would not provide coverage for damage or loss. One of the exclusions to coverage was from damage relating to a “collapse of buildings.” The Policy defined collapse as:

[A]n abrupt falling down or caving in of a building or any part of a building with the result being that the building or part of a building cannot be occupied for its intended purpose.

Dkt. 53 at 3. However, the Policy allowed for certain exceptions to this exclusion, such as the exclusion of coverage was when the “collapse” was caused by, as relevant here:

(1) weight of snow or
(2) use of defective materials or methods in construction, remodeling or renovation if the collapse occurs after construction, remodeling, or renovation is complete . . .

Dkt. 53 at 2-3.

         Nevertheless, the Policy states that a building that “is in imminent danger of abruptly falling down or caving in” or “suffers a substantial impairment of structural integrity” is not a “collapse” but rather is in a “state of imminent collapse.” Dkt. 53 at 3. The Policy excludes damage or loss from the building being in a “state of imminent collapse” unless the loss is caused by, as relevant here:

(1) weight of snow, or
(2) use of defective materials or methods in construction, remodeling or renovation if the state of imminent collapse occurs during the course of construction, remodeling, or renovation.

Id. (emphasis added).

         The store was closed in July 2014 for interior renovations and remained closed through February 2015. On February 1, 2015, the Chicagoland area experienced heavy snowfall. On February 4, 2015, Ravinia Cleaners reported that there was a leak coming from the ceiling. Travelers sent a claims inspector to evaluate the damage on February 6, 2015, but the snow and ice damning prevented him from inspecting the roof. That same day, construction workers put temporary “shoring” in place on the ceiling. Ravinia Cleaners reported to Travelers that there was damage to the roof on February 25, ...


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