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Cappy's Windows, Inc., Adrian B. Treese v. the Cincinnati Insurance Co

September 27, 2012

CAPPY'S WINDOWS, INC., ADRIAN B. TREESE
PLAINTIFF
v.
THE CINCINNATI INSURANCE CO., DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

Adrian Treese, the owner of Cappy's Windows in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was the victim of a burglary, which resulted in the loss of inventory and equipment. Treese filed this lawsuit against his insurance company, Cincinnati Insurance Company, alleging that he was improperly denied coverage for his destroyed business personal property. Cappy's Windows has filed a motion for summary judgment in which it contends that the terms of Tresse's policy clearly provide coverage for his business personal property; or, if the terms do not clearly provide him coverage, his reasonable expectations of coverage prevail. Cincinnati has filed a cross motion for summary judgment in which it claims that the terms of the policy clearly provide coverage only for his building, and his reasonable expectations of coverage do not prevail. For the following reasons, I will grant Cincinnati's motion for summary judgment and deny Cappy's Windows' motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Vandalism and Burglary at Cappy's Windows

During the weekend of February 19, 2010, Cappy's Windows, Inc., a seller and installer of windows, doors, siding, and awnings, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was the victim of a burglary. (Treese Dep. 10:22-11:6, 58:9-24.) The company lost inventory and equipment. (Id. at 94:20-95:2.) Adrian Treese is the sole shareholder of Cappy's Windows; he also owns the premises on which Cappy's Windows is located, as well as the property stolen and vandalized during the burglary. (Id. at 133:16-20; Doc. No. 15-3 at 1.)

B. Treese's Insurance Coverage

Lafayette Ambassador Bank required Treese to have insurance on the premises on which Cappy's Windows is located as part of its mortgage on the property. (Treese Dep. 14:5-9, 32:14-16.) His first policy fulfilling this requirement was with Donegal Insurance Company, which provided coverage for "Buildings," with a limit of $316,360, and for "Business Personal Property," with a limit of $126,360. (Doc. No. 14-2 at 1.) As a result of "some disagreements and some payment issues," Donegal discontinued Treese's policy in 2005. (Treese Dep. 32:8-9, 33:3-5.)

After losing his Donegal policy, Treese contacted C.M. Stauffer Insurance Agency to acquire another policy to satisfy the bank. (Id. at 32:8-10.) Without a policy, the bank was planning to provide coverage at a much higher rate. (Id. at 32:14-16.) On April 8, 2005, Bruce Roehrig of C.M. Stauffer Insurance Agency submitted a commercial insurance application to Cincinnati Insurance Company, listing Adrian P. Treese as the applicant and requesting "Building" coverage in the amount of $300,000. (Doc. No. 15-10 at 6.)

Cincinnati issued a policy to Treese providing insurance as requested in the application, which Treese reviewed "[t]o some extent." (Treese Dep. 50:24-51:1.) After this initial Cincinnati policy ended in 2008, C.M. Stauffer submitted a renewal application to Cincinnati on April 7, 2008, requesting "Building" coverage for 2008 to 2011 for $330,000. (Doc. No. 15-10 at 16-18.) The policy was renewed for the period of April 8, 2008, to April 8, 2011. (Doc. No. 15-5 at 2.) On the Commercial Property Coverage Part Declarations page, the "Coverage Provided" lists "Building," with a limit of $330,000. (Doc. No. 15-5 at 16.)

On May 12, 2010, Treese's attorney, Vincent Cavacini, initiated loss claim proceedings on his behalf for the stolen and destroyed items inside the building by sending a letter to Roehrig at C.M. Stauffer Insurance Agency. (Doc. No. 15-10 at 24.) The letter contends that the "losses are covered under a commercial insurance policy issued by your office through Cincinnati Insurance Company, which was issued on April 8, 2008." (Id.) The letter also requests a proof of loss form from Cincinnati to claim a loss of $68,943.08. (Id.) By letter dated June 15, 2010, Cincinnati informed Cavacini that Treese did not purchase insurance for business personal property; thus, there was "no coverage for this loss." (Id.) On August 12, 2010, Cavacini sent a proof of loss form to Cincinnati, claiming losses of $71,063.55 for the stolen tools, damaged inventory, and damaged real estate. (Doc. No. 15-10 at 34-35.) On August 20, 2010, Cincinnati rejected Treese's claim due to a lack of "business personal property coverage applicable to this policy."*fn1 (Doc. No. 15-10 at 42.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). For an issue to be "genuine," a reasonable fact-finder must be able to return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party. Id.

A party moving for summary judgment always bears the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing relevant portions of the record, including depositions, documents, affidavits, or declarations, or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or showing that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Summary judgment is therefore appropriate when the non-moving party fails to rebut the moving party's argument that there is no genuine issue of fact by pointing to evidence that is "sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322; Harter v. GAF Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 852 (3d Cir. 1992).

Under Rule 56, the Court must view the evidence presented on the motion in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 255. The nonmoving party cannot avert summary judgment with speculation or conclusory allegations, such as those found in the pleadings, but rather, must present clear evidence from which a jury can reasonably find in its favor. Ridgewood Bd. of Educ. v. N.E. for M.E., 172 F.3d 238, 252 (3d Cir. 1999). Finally, in reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court does not make credibility determinations and must view ...


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