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Mead v. Travelers Indemnity Co. of Connecticut, Inc

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 17, 2015

ANDREA MEAD, et al.
v.
TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY OF CONNECTICUT, INC

For ANDREA MEAD, WILLIAM DANOWSKI, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ASSIGNEES OF THE ESTATE OF JEFFREY NEDOROSCIK AND PETWIN UNIT OWNERS ASSOCIATION, Plaintiffs: ANNE E. MATTHEWS, LEAD ATTORNEY, MCCARTER & ENGLISH LLP, PHILA, PA; JAMES WYLIE DONALD, LEAD ATTORNEY, MCCARTER & ENGLISH, LLP, WILMINGTON, DE.

For TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPNAY OF CONNECTICUT, INC., Defendant: MICHAEL J. MCLAUGHLIN, LEAD ATTORNEY, BUTLER PAPPAS WEIHMULLER KATZ CRAIG LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 333

MEMORANDUM

Harvey Bartle III, J.

Plaintiffs Andrea Mead (" Mead" ) and her husband William Danowski (" Danowski" ) in their own right and as assignees of the Estate of Jeffrey Nedoroscik and the Petwin Unit Owners Association bring this diversity action against defendant Travelers Indemnity Company of Connecticut, Inc., (" Travelers" ) which insured plaintiffs' condominium property located in Washington,

Page 334

D.C.[1] Plaintiffs have sued to recover damages caused by a fire at that property on December 4, 2012. Travelers has denied insurance coverage. It asserts that the policy was canceled effective October 28, 2012 for failure to pay the premium. The substantive law of the District of Columbia governs.

Now before the court is the motion of Travelers for summary judgment as to all of plaintiffs' claims. In addition, plaintiffs have pending a cross-motion for summary judgment on the issue of estoppel. Travelers has moved to strike plaintiffs' cross-motion as untimely.

I.

Summary judgment is appropriate " if 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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Rule 56(c)(1) states:

A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by ... citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations ..., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or ... showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1).

A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable factfinder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Summary judgment is granted where there is insufficient record evidence for a reasonable factfinder to find for the plaintiffs. Id. at 252. " The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff." Id.

When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, we may only rely on admissible evidence. See, e.g., Blackburn v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 179 F.3d 81, 95 (3d Cir. 1999). We view the facts and draw all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party independently for each cross-motion. Pichler v. UNITE, 542 F.3d 380, 386 (3d Cir. 2008). However, " an inference based upon a speculation or conjecture does not create a material factual dispute sufficient to defeat entry of summary judgment." Robertson v. Allied Signal, Inc., 914 F.2d 360, 382 n.12 (3d Cir. 1990).

II.

The following facts are undisputed or taken in the light most favorable to plaintiffs. Mead owned a condominium in Washington, D.C. where she lived at the time with Danowski. She and Jeffrey Nedoroscik (" Nedoroscik" ), another condo owner, were the only members of the Petwin Unit Owners Association (the " Association" ) during the relevant time period.

Nedoroscik obtained a Travelers insurance policy on behalf of the Association through a broker, Service First Insurance (" Service First" ). In July 2012 Travelers renewed the Association's policy, Policy Number I-660-6555M176-TCT-12, for one year effective September 8, 2012 to September 8, 2013.

Page 335

It was Nedoroscik's responsibility to use each condo owner's association fees to pay the policy premium, and he was the point of contact for the Association for purposes of insurance. The premium of $1,457 was due on September 8, 2012, but the Association did not timely pay it. Travelers thereafter initiated steps to cancel the policy for nonpayment of premium.

Under the Municipal Regulations of the District of Columbia, an insurer must perform certain actions in order to cancel an insurance policy. D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 26-A, § 301. Should the insurer fail to take the enumerated steps, the insured is entitled to renewal of the policy:

Cancellation by an insurer shall be permissible and effective with respect to a policy only if each of the conditions in this section is met with respect to that cancellation.... Unless the insurer complies with each of the conditions specified in this section, a policyholder has a right to renewal for an additional period of time equivalent to the expiring term if ...

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