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New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. Edwards

February 26, 2007

NEW YORK CENTRAL MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE CO., APPELLANT,
v.
GAIL EDWARDS A/K/A GAIL RAFFIANI, APPELLEE.



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

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Appellant appeals from the Bankruptcy Court's July 25, 2006 Memorandum-Decision and Order, in which it concluded that "New York Central failed to pay the Debtor's claim as agreed pursuant to her home owners policy" and "entered [judgment] in the amount of $48,625 in favor of the Debtor and against New York Central." See Appellant's Exhibit "A," Bankruptcy Court's Memorandum-Decision and Order dated July 25, 2006, at 9.

The Court heard oral argument in support of, and in opposition to, this appeal on January 26, 2007, and reserved decision at that time. The following constitutes the Court's written disposition of this appeal.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Section 158(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code provides that "[t]he district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction to hear appeals (1) from final judgments, orders, and decrees [of the bankruptcy court]; . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 158(a). "When reviewing an appeal from a bankruptcy court's final order, the district court reviews the bankruptcy court's findings of fact for clear error." In re O'Brien, 318 B.R. 258, 261 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (citation omitted). "By contrast, a de novo standard of review applies to questions of law." Id. (citation omitted).

B. Bankruptcy Court's Factual Findings

The Bankruptcy Court made the following factual findings that are relevant to the resolution of this appeal:

1. New York Central [Appellant], as insurer, issued a homeowner's insurance policy to Debtor [Appellee], as insured, for her residence, with coverage for the period May 7, 1998 through May 7, 1999.

2. Chase Manhattan Mortgage Group ("Chase") held a mortgage against Debtor's residence.

3. The Policy between New York Central and Debtor contained the following clause establishing a two-year limitation period for commencement of an action against the insurer for claims specified in the Policy: "Suit Against Us. No action can be brought unless the policy provisions have been complied with and the action is started within two years after the date of the loss."

4. Debtor claimed that fire damaged her residence on November 5, 1998.

5. On July 7, 1999, and again on March 30, 2000, Debtor submitted Sworn Statements in Proof of Loss to New York Central along with statements as to ...


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