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Chartis Property Casualty Company, Inganamort v. John Inganamort and Joan

December 19, 2012

CHARTIS PROPERTY CASUALTY COMPANY, INGANAMORT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN INGANAMORT AND JOAN
DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

Defendants John and Joan Inganamort move to dismiss or transfer this matter to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Plaintiff Chartis Property Casualty Company ("Chartis") opposes the motion. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78, the Court denies the motion without oral argument.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This case involves a coverage dispute under a marine insurance policy. The coverage dispute arises from an alleged September 15, 2011 partial sinking of Defendants' yacht while docked in Florida.

The Policy

Plaintiff Chartis issued Private Client Group Yacht policy number PM 134-13-12, effective May 16, 2011 to May 16, 2012 to John and Joan Inganamort (the "Policy"). See Declaration of Neil Mody ("Mody Decl."), Ex. A. The Policy was sent to Defendants at the Fort Lee, New Jersey policy address. Id. The Policy insured Defendants' 65-foot, 1996 Sportfish vessel. Id. The yacht was berthed in Boca Raton, Florida, but was authorized to navigate "U.S. River, and inland waters, coastal waters and tributaries thereto of: the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico including the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands from 551 degrees North latitude (Newfoundland) to Brownsville, TX." Id. The waters of the State of New Jersey are included in this provision. Id.

The Parties

Plaintiff Chartis is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in New York, New York, and offices both in the United States and abroad. See Declaration of Matthew Roethke ("Roethke Decl.") ¶ 3. The claim is being handled from Chartis's Berkeley Heights, New Jersey office. Id. ¶¶ 4-15.

Defendants were personally served with the Summons and Complaint at their Gladstone, New Jersey home. ECF Nos. 4-5. Plaintiff Chartis alleges that the Inganamorts maintain at least one residence and one business in New Jersey, and that Mr. Inganamort maintains his offices in a high-rise apartment house he owns in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where he stores all of his records regarding the yacht at issue. See Opp. at 4. Defendants live in New Jersey from May 30 until November 1 each year, when they travel to another residence in Florida. Mody Decl., Ex C at 27-28; Mot. at 3.

The Claim

On September 15, 2011, the Inganamorts' yacht alleged suffered a "partial sinking loss" while docked in Florida. Roethke Decl. ¶ 3. Plaintiff Chartis was informed of the alleged loss on October 14, 2011 by Defendants' insurance broker. Id. ¶ 5. On October 17, 2011, Plaintiff's employee, Matthew Roethke, sent a letter from New Jersey to Defendants, in New Jersey, acknowledging the alleged loss, requesting information, and expressly reserving all rights under the Policy. Id., Ex. B. On October 17, 2011, Roethke retained a marine surveyor, David Morris. Opp. at 5. Later, Mr. Morris wrote the Defendants' designated Yacht Captain, Brian Larosiere, confirming that the coverage claim would be handled by Mr. Roethke, who is located in New Jersey. Roethke Decl., Ex. C.

Procedural History

On July 2, 2012, Plaintiff Chartis filed this action against Defendants in the District of New Jersey. ECF No. 1. Chartis seeks declaratory judgment that coverage for the alleged loss is barred and/or limited (Count I); voidance and/or rescission of the Policy based on material representations (Count II); and the right to assert additional grounds for declaratory relief, misrepresentation and/or rescission of the Policy (Count III). Id.

Two weeks later, on July 16, 2012, Defendants filed a Complaint in Palm Beach County, Florida, which was subsequently removed on August 6, 2012 to the Southern District of Florida. Inganamort v. Chartis Prop. Cas. Co., Civ. Action No. 9:12-cv-80832; Mody Decl. ΒΆ 6. Defendants are seeking an injunctive order directing Plaintiff to renew the Policy (Count I), and a declaratory judgment that Plaintiff breached the Policy (Count II). See id. Defendants ...


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