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Ripley v. Brethren Mut. Ins. Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 25, 2014

CARROLL RIPLEY, JR. and CAROLYN RIPLEY
v.
BRETHREN MUTUAL INSURANCE CO

For CARROLL RIPLEY, JR., CAROLYN RIPLEY, H/W, Plaintiffs: MARK J. HILL, LEAD ATTORNEY, MARK J. HILL & ASSOCIATES PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For BRETHREN MUTUAL INSURANCE CO., Defendant: MARTIN A. DURKIN, LEAD ATTORNEY, DURKIN LAW OFFICES P.C., PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 504

MEMORANDUM

Stewart Dalzell, J.

In the summer of 2012, Michael Ripley and two acquaintances stole antiques worth more than $50,000 from his grandparents Carroll Ripley, Jr. and Carolyn Ripley's house. At issue is whether Michael was at that time a member of his grandparents' household, which would trigger a policy exclusion in their insurance policy precluding recovery from defendant Brethren Mutual Insurance Co. (" Brethren Mutual" ) for the theft.

Before us are plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment seeking a judicial declaration that Michael Ripley was not an " insured" for purposes of the policy exclusion and Brethren Mutual's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, we will grant plaintiffs' motion and deny Brethren Mutual's motion.

I. Factual And Procedural Background

The undisputed facts are that on May 12, 2012 Brethren Mutual issued Farm Policy No. F880010255 05 to Carroll Ripley, Jr. and Carolyn Ripley (collectively, " the Ripleys" ) to cover their residence in Ivyland, Pennsylvania, which includes a

Page 505

15 1/2-room house, a six-room carriage house, and four horse barns (one of which is attached to a horse-riding arena) on a thirty-acre working horse farm. Pl. SOF at ¶ ¶ 6, 7. On July 30, 2012 a theft of personal property -- antiques Carolyn Ripley had collected -- occurred at the residence. Def. SOF at ¶ 4; Pl. SOF at ¶ 9. The plaintiffs filed a claim to recover under their insurance policy, Def. SOF at ¶ 4, and Brethren Mutual hired Michael H. McIntyre of MHM Risk Management, Inc. to investigate and evaluate the claim. Id. at ¶ 5. McIntyre visited the premises on August 16, 2012. Id. at ¶ 6. During the inspection, Carolyn Ripley advised McIntyre that her grandson lived on the premises and had admitted his involvement in the theft to her. Id. at ¶ ¶ 7, 8; Pl. SOF at ¶ 24.

On August 21, 2012, McIntyre issued a letter on behalf of Brethren Mutual denying coverage by reference to a policy provision that stated:

We will not pay for loss or damage arising out of any act an " insured" commits or conspires to commit with the intent to cause a loss.

In the event of such a loss, no " insured" is entitled to coverage, even " insureds" who did not commit or conspire to commit the act causing the loss.

Def. SOF at ¶ 12; Pl. SOF at ¶ 25 and Ex. E.

The policy defines " insured" as ...


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