United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
VALERIE KEYS et al.
ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY
case arises out of defendant Allstate Property and Casualty
Insurance Company's denial of coverage to plaintiff
Valerie Keys for water damage to her home that occurred on
July 27, 2014. I conducted a bench trial on January 25,
2017. Having considered the documentary evidence and
testimony, I make the following findings of fact and
conclusions of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 52(a). Because I find that the damage to
plaintiff's home was not covered by her insurance policy,
I will enter judgment in favor of defendant with respect to
plaintiff's claim for breach of contract.
2011 Roof Repair
testified that around 2011 she replaced her roof for $2, 900.
Tr. at 19:2-4 (Keys). She testified she did so because her
neighbor had done the same and inspired her. Tr. at
18:7-19:11 (Keys). Plaintiff did not have receipts or
invoices describing this work. Tr. at 47:2- 10 (Keys).
Plaintiff did not testify to whether she determined she had a
need to replace her roof before undertaking the replacement.
27, 2014, plaintiff returned from vacation to find that water
had penetrated her home at 5638 North 18th Street
in Philadelphia. Tr. at 12:1, 20:6-22:22 (Keys). On the top
floor, the carpet, the curtains in the master bedroom, the
towels in the bathroom and the clothes in the closet were all
wet. Tr. at 22:2-22 (Keys). The paint on the ceilings in
several rooms was peeling. Tr. at 22:2-4, 22:17-22 (Keys).
Plaintiff, who had lived in that home for 37 years, had not
discovered water damage like this before. Tr. at 22:23-23:3
she discovered the water in her home, she also saw evidence
of a recent storm in her neighborhood. Tr. at 26:5-11 (Keys).
She saw that fallen branches from a large tree on her
neighbor's property had been gathered into a pile her
neighbor's yard. Tr. 24:16-20 (Keys). This tree is near
plaintiff's property and the branches hang over her roof.
Tr. at 23:20-22, 24:1- 20 (Keys).
had insured her home with Allstate against “loss to the
interior of a building structure, or covered property inside,
caused by rain . . .” but only if “wind or hail
first damages the roof or walls and the wind forces rain . .
. through the damaged roof or wall.” Pl.'s Ex. 1
(Allstate Property Insurance Company Policy No. 928925341) at
8. This policy was in effect at the time of plaintiff's
loss. Tr. at 43:13-15 (Weinberg); Def.'s Pretrial Mem. at
ECF p. 5 (agreeing to stipulate to this fact); Pl.'s
Pretrial Mem. at ECF p. 3 (same).
First Roof Inspection
contacted Allstate to seek coverage for her losses. Tr. at
23:12-13 (Keys). Allstate told her they would send someone to
look at the damage to her property. Tr. at 26:13-14 (Keys).
On September 9, 2014, plaintiff contracted with Metro Public
Adjustment to represent her in her negotiation of her claim
with Allstate. P-3 (Contract between Keys and Metro, Sept. 9,
2014); Tr. at 31:16-19, 34:13-20 (Keys) (describing the date
of contract as September 2, 2014).
testified that someone from Metro came to her home and put
tarps on her roof. Tr. at 33:20-24 (Keys). She also testified
that she does not remember who these people were or what date
this occurred. Tr. at 50:17-24, 51:23-52:2, 52:18- 24 (Keys).
She testified that, on this occasion, she observed a pile of
branches on her lawn, some of which were very large, that the
people who had installed the tarp on her roof had removed.
Tr. at 39:3-40:10 (Keys).
frequently contracts with RJE Home Remodeling Company to
inspect homes when claims are filed. Tr. 64:12-13 (McNaney).
RJE sent Michael McNaney, a claim inspector with over ten
years of relevant experience and an HEG certification for
evaluating storm damage to homes, to inspect plaintiff's
home on September 23, 2014. Tr. at 62:16-63:2, 67:4-5
(McNaney). In the course of inspecting plaintiff's roof,
McNaney found that between 10 and 20 percent of the roof was
covered by tarps that were nailed to the roof. Tr. at 71:1-14
(McNaney); 102:1-8; 110:21-111:4. Concerned that removing the
tarps would damage the roof, he looked under the corners of
the tarps and otherwise inspected the rest of the visible
roof. Tr. at 72:2-4 (McNaney).
this inspection, McNaney found no openings in the roof that
were caused by wind or rain. Tr. at 75:9-77:10 (McNaney). He
found “no evidence of wind lifting or any other storm
related damage.” Pl.'s Ex. ...