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Parker v. Allstate Indemnity Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 16, 2019

ARTIS L. PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE INDEMNITY COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Artis L. Parker brought this insurance dispute against Defendant Allstate Indemnity Company after a fire burned down his home and Defendant denied coverage. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (Pl.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J., ECF No. 28), and Defendant filed a Cross Motion for Summary Judgment, (Def.'s Cross Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 30). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED with respect to Count 1 and DENIED with respect to Count 2, Defendant's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED with respect to Count 2 and DENIED with respect to Count 1, and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike is DENIED AS MOOT.

         II.PROCEDURAL & FACTUAL HISTORY

         In 2004, Plaintiff moved into a single-family home in Shiloh, Illinois (“the insured property”). (Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts 1, ECF No. 29-1). Defendant insured the property, (id.), and the policy included fire coverage, (Policy Endorsement AU277-2 1, ECF No. 30-3). Plaintiff initially lived in the home with his wife and three children. (Pl.'s Dep. 18, ECF No. 30-3).

         In 2006, Plaintiff obtained a position with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (Id. at 22). As a condition of his employment, Plaintiff was required to relocate to various cities across the United States. (Id.). Plaintiff and his family lived in the insured property until 2014, when Plaintiff relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana. (Id. at 22-23). Plaintiff was accompanied by his wife, son, and one of his daughters; his other daughter remained at the insured property. (Id. at 23). Plaintiff then relocated to Carmel, Indiana in 2015, where he currently resides. (Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts 5).

         In 2016, Plaintiff's son returned to the insured property. (Pl.'s Dep. 23). Plaintiff's daughter moved out of the insured property the following year, leaving only Plaintiff's son in the home. (Id.). Plaintiff's son carries criminal convictions. (Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts 7).

         Plaintiff and his wife returned to the insured property “on a regular basis, usually monthly for a weekend but sometimes for longer periods of time.” (Id.). Plaintiff continued making improvements on the insured property. (Id. at 24). He also continued paying for utilities, (id.), and he maintained the insurance policy with Defendant, (Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts 2).

         In 2018, the insured property burnt down. (Id. at 1). Plaintiff filed a claim with Defendant the next day. (Id. at 10). Defendant retained a contractor to investigate the cause of the fire and ultimately classified it as “undetermined.” (Id. at 2). Nevertheless, Defendant denied coverage for two reasons. (Id. at 11). First, Defendant argued that the insurance contract required Plaintiff to notify Defendant when he moved out of the home. (Id.) His failure to do so, it argued, excluded coverage for the loss. (Id.) The relevant policy provision states as follows:

In reliance on the information you have given us, Allstate agrees to provide the coverages indicated on the Policy Declarations. In return, you must pay the premium when due and comply with the terms and conditions, and inform us of any change in title, use or occupancy of the residence premises.

(Allstate Deluxe Plus Homeowners Policy 3, ECF No. 30-3) (emphasis in original) [hereinafter “The Policy”].

         Defendant also denied coverage on the grounds that the presence of Plaintiff's son alone in the home constituted an increased hazard by virtue of his criminal record. (Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts 11). The relevant policy provision states as follows:

We do not cover loss to the property . . . caused by . . . [a]ny substantial change or increase in hazard, if changed or increased by any means within the control ...

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