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Wurst v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

May 24, 2006

DENNIS WURST, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irenas, Senior District Judge

OPINION

This is a diversity suit brought by Plaintiff Dennis Wurst ("Wurst") against his homeowners insurance company, State Farm Fire and Casualty Insurance Company ("State Farm"). Wurst asserts a breach of contract claim against State Farm for denying him coverage under his insurance policy.*fn1 State Farm moves for summary judgment.*fn2

I.

On February 23, 2003, during a heavy rain,*fn3 the basement wall of Wurst's home collapsed, allowing massive amounts of water and mud to rush in. Thereafter, Wurst made a claim for the loss under his State Farm homeowners policy (the "policy"). State Farm conducted an investigation and denied Wurst's claim, explaining that it had determined the collapse was caused by "soil conditions and hydrostatic pressure, which are losses excluded under the policy." (Cronin Cert. Ex. 3)

The parties agree that the relevant provisions of the policy are:

SECTION I. ADDITIONAL COVERAGES . . .

Collapse. We insure only for direct physical loss to covered property involving the sudden, entire collapse of a building or any part of a building. Collapse means actually fallen down or fallen into pieces.

The collapse must be directly and immediately caused only by one or more of the following:

b. hidden decay of a supporting or weight-bearing structural member of the building;

Loss to . . . foundation is not included under item[] b. . . . unless the loss is the direct and immediate cause of the collapse of the building. . . .

SECTION I - LOSSES NOT INSURED

1. We do not insure for any loss to the property described in Coverage A which consists of, or is directly and immediately caused by, one or more of the perils listed in items a. through n. below, regardless of whether the loss occurs suddenly or gradually, involves isolated or widespread damage, arises from natural or external forces, or occurs as a result of any combination of these:

a. collapse, except as specifically provided in SECTION 1-ADDITIONAL COVERAGES, Collapse;

c. freezing, thawing, pressure or weight of water or ice . . . to a . . . foundation . . .;

2. We do not insure under any coverage for any loss which would not have occurred in the absence of one or more of the following excluded events. We do not insure for such loss regardless of: (a) the cause of the excluded event; or (b) other causes of the loss; or (c) whether other causes acted concurrently or in any sequence with the excluded event to produce the loss; or (d) whether the event occurs suddenly or gradually, involves isolated ...


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