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Brown v. Certain Underwriters At Lloyd's

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 2, 2018

COREY BROWN, Plaintiff/ Counterclaim Defendant,
CERTAIN UNDERWRITERS AT LLOYD'S, LONDON, Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff.


          JOYNER, J.

         Presently before the Court is Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London's (“Lloyd's”) unopposed Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 59). For the following reasons, we GRANT Lloyd's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff/Counterclaim-Defendant Corey Brown (“Brown”) entered into an insurance policy, Policy No. DP10336 (the “Policy”), with Lloyd's to insure Brown's property located at 1220 S. 50th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the “Property”). After a fire occurred at the Property on May 1, 2015, Brown sought to recover insurance proceeds from Lloyd's. Lloyd's refused, and Brown filed the instant lawsuit. Lloyd's filed various counterclaims against Brown, seeking to invalidate the Policy and hold Brown liable for insurance fraud.

         Following the close of discovery, Lloyd's filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Brown did not respond. By failing to do so, Brown did not dispute any of the facts that Lloyd's advances in its Motion, nor did he take issue with any of the documentary evidence and affidavits upon which Lloyd's relies.


         Summary judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitle to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue is “genuine” if there is sufficient evidentiary support upon which a reasonable juror could find for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is “material” if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law. Id.

         “A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility for informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identify those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Allstate Ins. Co. v. Jacobs, No. 07-cv-2715, 2008 WL 687091, at *1 (E.D. Pa. March 7, 2008) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). If the moving party meets this initial burden, the non-moving party's response, “by affidavits or otherwise as provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). Despite a non-movant's unwillingness to defend against a motion for summary judgment, we address the merits of the motion and do not merely grant it as uncontested. Loc. R. Civ. P. 7.1; see also Jacobs, 2008 WL 687091, at *1.


         We are satisfied that Lloyd's has established the following facts, which constitute the gravamen of the claims at issue, are beyond a genuine dispute.

         First, Lloyd's has established that Brown represented in his application for insurance that the Property would be occupied beginning on May 1, 2015. Brown similarly represented that a tenant had already signed a lease for a one-year term beginning on May 1, 2015. Brown supported these representations by providing Lloyd's with the signed lease that he referenced in his application. The signed lease identifies Judy Cooks as the future tenant.

         There is no genuine dispute that Brown made these representations while knowing that they were false. Ms. Cooks testified at her deposition that she and Brown are former colleagues, that Brown asked if she would sign a lease for the Property, and that they agreed the purported lease would only be used so that he could qualify for insurance from Lloyd's. Ms. Cook's testimony further shows that Brown never believed Ms. Cook's would occupy the Property or pay him under the terms of the purported lease. This testimony goes unrebutted because Brown refused to answer any questions on this subject at his deposition.[1]We are satisfied that no reasonable juror could find that Brown made the above representations to Lloyd's with the belief that they were true.

         Second, we find that these misrepresentations were material to Lloyd's risk of insuring the Property. Information is “material” if it would influence the insurer in “estimating the degrees and character of the risk, or in fixing the premium rate.” A.G. Allebach, Inc. v. Hurley, 540 A.2d 289, 295 (Pa. Super. 1988). The Policy included an “Occupancy Endorsement, ” which made occupancy an express condition for coverage. Moreover, Brown's insurance agent, Leonard Garza, provided an affidavit establishing that the purported lease with Ms. Cooks was necessary in order for Brown to obtain insurance from Lloyd's. This evidence establishes the materiality of Brown's representations.

         Third, we find that Brown again made misrepresentations when he pursued his claim against Lloyd's to recover for the fire damage to the Property. In his Complaint, Brown represented that a tenant was scheduled to move into the property on May 1, 2015, and that because of the fire, he is entitled to damages for not be able to collect rent under the purported ...

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