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Matson-Forester v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 12, 2014

COLLEEN MATSON-FORESTER AND DWIGHT FORESTER, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

YVETTE KANE, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant Allstate Insurance Company's motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 21) and Plaintiffs Colleen Matson-Forrester and Dwight Forrester's motion to strike Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 23). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment, and deny Plaintiffs' motion to strike.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs reside at 305 Mollie Drive, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 24 at 1.) Plaintiffs' property was insured by a policy provided by Defendant. (Doc. No. 21 ¶ 8.) The policy covers "sudden and accidental direct physical loss to the property... except as limited or excluded in this policy." (Doc. No. 21-8 at 23, 27.) This included the following exclusions:

We do not cover loss to the property... consisting of or caused by:
1. Flood, including, but not limited to surface water, waves, tidal water or overflow of any body of water, or spray from any of these, whether or not driven by wind.
2. Water or any other substance that backs up through sewers or drains.
3. Water or any other substance that overflows from a sump pump, sump pump well or other system designed for the removal of subsurface water which is drained from a foundation area of a structure.
4. Water or any other substance on or below the surface of the ground, regardless of its source. This includes water or any other substance which exerts pressure on, or flows, seeps or leaks through any part of the residence premises
5. Earth movement of any type, including, but not limited to earthquake, volcanic eruption, lava flow, landslide, subsidence, mudflow, pressure, sinkhole, erosion, or the sinking, rising, shifting, creeping, expanding, bulging, cracking, settling or contracting of the earth. This exclusion applies whether or not the earth movement is combined with water.

(Doc. No. 21-8 at 23, 29.). These exclusions apply to coverage for dwelling and other structures, and to personal property. (Id.)

On August 7, 2011, Plaintiffs heard a loud explosion and realized that a power outage had affected their home. (Doc. No. 24 at 6.) Upon inspection of the home's basement, they saw that portions of the foundation wall had imploded, collapsed or cracked, causing water and mud to pour into the basement. (Id.) Plaintiffs' home suffered extensive damage, as did Plaintiffs' personal property. (Id.) On August 8, 2011, Allstate adjuster Larry Miller, and Defendant's expert David E. Aufiero inspected the property. (Doc. No. 21 ¶¶ 9-11.) Plaintiffs' claim for coverage under their homeowner's policy was denied by Defendant in writing on August 9, 2011. (Id. ¶ 12.)

Plaintiffs and Defendant dispute the precise cause of the events that caused the damage. Plaintiffs' expert, Edward Dishong, opines that the cause was an accidental occurrence, not an natural one. (Doc. No. 21-11 at 3.) According to Dishong:

It is my professional opinion... that the loss at the Forrester's home was not a natural occurrence, but rather arose from an accidental failure of the storm water system resulting in the damage to multiple homes within the ...

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