United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
brought this action, claiming the Defendant breached the
terms of a homeowners insurance contract it maintained with
Plaintiff when it denied coverage for damage to the roof of
Plaintiff's residence. Plaintiff alleged that she
suffered a sudden and accidental loss and damage to the roof
as the result of hail and wind. The case was tried to the
Court sitting without a jury. For the reasons that follow,
the Court finds in favor of the defendant and against the
to trial, the parties stipulated to the following facts:
Plaintiff Sandra J. Fishman ("Plaintiff ') lives [in
a house] located at 1402 Farr Road, Reading, Pennsylvania
May 22, 2014, the Property was insured by State Farm Fire and
Casualty Company Insurance Homeowner Policy 78-EB-0308-2
Property has a slate roof.
was reported to State Farm that the Property was damaged as a
result of a storm on May 22, 2014 involving reported hail and
wind damage to the roof and gutters at the Property.
loss was reported to State Farm by Plaintiff on September 30,
Plaintiff retained the services of Gillespie Contracting Inc.
(“Gillespie”) related to the damages and repairs
to the slate roof.
October 15, 2014, State Farm representative George Dickey
("Dickey") inspected the Property with Eric Moe
(“Moe”) of Gillespie.
Based on his inspection, Dickey prepared an initial $12,
661.94 Replacement Cost Value ("RCV") estimate with
an Actual Cost Value ("ACV") of $7, 657.28, and,
after applying depreciation ($4, 747.68) and the deductible
($500.00), Dickey issued a $7, 657.28 check to Plaintiff and
Wells Fargo Bank.
October 16, 2014, after review of the steep roof pitch,
Dickey increased the State Farm estimate to $13, 029.53 RCV
and issued a second check to Plaintiff and Wells Fargo in the
amount of $124.57.
October 16, 2014 State Farm estimate provides for repairs to
limited areas of the Property's roof.
April 29, 2015, Gillespie prepared an April 29, 2015 Proposal
which provided a $85, 186.56 RCV estimate with additional
supplements costs of $4, 991.50, for a total of $90, 178.06
RCV ("Gillespie Proposal").
Gillespie Proposal provides for the replacement of the
Property's entire slate roof.
May 27, 2015, a second inspection of the Property was
performed by State Farm specialist Marvin A. Moore
("Moore") and Gillespie representatives, Moe and
Caleb Arnwine (“Arnwine”).
purpose of the second inspection was to reconcile the price
differences between State Farm's $13, 029.53 RCV estimate
and Gillespie's $90, 178.06 RCV estimate.
May 27th inspection did not result in reconciliation of the
a result of the difference between the State Farm estimate
and the Gillespie estimate, State Farm retained independent
slate roofing expert Joseph C. Jenkins ("Jenkins"),
to inspect the Property's slate roof and provide an
opinion regarding any damage to the roof, the cause of the
damage, and an estimate for repairs related to hail or wind
damage to the Property's roof.
Jenkins inspected the Property's roof on September 10th
and 11th, 2015 with representatives of both State Farm and
Gillespie present for the inspection. As a result of
his inspection of the Property, Jenkins prepared an October
9, 2015, report regarding the cause of the alleged damages to
the Property's roof.
Jenkins' Report concluded that the damages to the slate
roof were not hail damages.
Based on Jenkins' Report, State Farm sent an October 16,
2015 letter denying further coverage for the May 22, 2014
parties agreed that the only witnesses to be called at trial
were Moe of Gillespie (for the plaintiff) and State
Farm's retained slate roofing expert, Jenkins (for the
There are two issues for the Court to determine:
a. Whether the reported damages to the slate roof at the
Property were the result of the May 22, 2014 hail storm; and
b. The amount of damages to be awarded to Plaintiff.
hearing testimony, the Court makes the following Findings of
testified that he is senior project manager for Gillespie and
has been in the roofing industry for eight and a half years.
(N.T. 11, 12.)
did not prepare an actual expert curriculum vitae, but
instead relied on his LinkedIn account profile that he had
prepared three years earlier. (N.T. 15; Stipulated Exhibit
Although Moe testified on direct examination that he had
inspected over 250 slate roofs (N.T. 12), he admitted on
cross-examination that his LinkedIn page did not state that
he had inspected over 250 slate roofs. Moe further admitted
that his LinkedIn page did not state that he had experience
as actually doing roofing work, had experience as a slate
roofer, had replaced valleys on slate roofs, or had installed
slate roofs (N.T. 16)
asked if he had any personal accreditations or memberships in
roofing associations, Moe testified that he had taken
Jenkins' Slate Roofing Contractors Association
(“SRCA”) course in 2015 (after the hail storm and
after he prepared the Gillespie Proposal). (N.T. 17.) Moe
admitted that although he had completed the SRCA course, he
was not accredited. (N.T. 57-58.)
Jenkins testified that the SRCA seminar Moe attended was
“a training session on slate--basic slate roof
installation only. . . It had nothing to do with repair
restoration.” (N.T. 92-93.)
Moe's LinkedIn page stated that he worked for Metro
Public Adjustment from October 2006 to December of 2012. Moe
admitted that he had never worked for Metro Public
Adjustment. (N.T. 49.)
admitted that he had not started working for Gillespie until
June of 2014 which was after the hail storm of May 22, 2014.
admitted that he had not provided Plaintiff's counsel
with information that he had worked for CMR Construction and
Roofing, prior to working for Gillespie. (N.T. 50.)
admitted that his LinkedIn profile stated that one of his
goals is to increase revenue for Gillespie. (N.T. 18.)
When asked on cross where in his LinkedIn profile does it
indicate that he is a qualified expert on slate roofing, Moe
replied, “I don't believe this case has-this case
is more about policy and direct physical loss by hail damage,
than to be a qualified state roofer.” (N.T. 18.)
testified that his expertise in slate roofing is based on
“working hand in hand with adjusters across the board,
including [State ...