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Koppelman v. Standard Fire Insurance Co.

March 19, 2008

LEONARD KOPPELMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE STANDARD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY D/B/A THE TRAVELERS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Kathleen Tomlinson, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff originally brought this action in state court asserting a claim for breach of contract. In May 2005, this action was removed to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. At the close of discovery, Defendant moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, that motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is the owner of a 1998 48 foot Hatteras (the "Boat"). Defendant, The Standard Fire Insurance Company ("Standard Fire"), issued a Yacht Policy to Plaintiff effective for the period November 1, 2003 to November 1, 2004 (the "Policy"). This Policy provided insurance coverage for the Boat pursuant to the Policy's terms, conditions, exclusions and warranties. In June 2004, Plaintiff submitted a claim for repair of the engine to Standard Fire. This action arises out of Defendant's denial of that claim.

Defendant moves for summary judgment in this matter asserting that (1) Plaintiff breached the "Support of Claim" provision in the Policy; (2) Plaintiff is estopped from recovering for "unrepaired damage"; and (3) the lawsuit is untimely. In support of this motion, Defendant relies upon Standard Fire's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Facts, its Memorandum of Law in Support of the Standard Fire Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment and the Affidavit of Michael E. Stern, attaching numerous exhibits supporting the motion, including excerpts of deposition transcripts from the depositions of Plaintiff and other witnesses. Plaintiff has submitted a Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the Standard Fire Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment, including exhibits and deposition excerpts and Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Additional Facts to be Tried. On April 11, 2007, I heard oral argument of the motion.

II. STATEMENT OF FACTS

The following summary is derived entirely from the parties' respective Rule 56.1 Statement and Counter-Statement of undisputed facts. See DE 31. Plaintiff Lenoard Koppelman is the owner the Boat. Standard Fire issued the Policy to Plaintiff covering the Boat. Plaintiff left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on May 19, 2004 and arrived in New York on or about May 26, 2004. On or about May 26, 2004, upon returning to New York, Plaintiff had the turbo chargers removed from the Boat. Thereafter, Plaintiff had the exhaust elbows removed from the Boat and returned to the manufacturer on June 15, 2004. The parties agree that on April 18, 2004, the Boat was grounded and damaged. The Boat was subsequently inspected by Standard Fire and Plaintiff's claim was paid. See Def. Mem at 8.

In August 2004, Standard Fire denied a claim for reimbursement submitted by Plaintiff based upon, inter alia, Plaintiff's failure to "comply with the conditions precedent of the Policy." There are three provisions in the Policy which Defendant relies upon in support of its motion for summary judgment. First, Defendant points to the "Support of Claim" Provision contained in the section entitled "Section Ten: Your Duties After A Loss. " That provision states as follows:

You must support any claim by: (1) ALLOWING US TO INSPECT THE DAMAGED PROPERTY BEFORE IT IS DISPOSED OF OR REPAIRED; (2) producing records to verify the claim and its amount; and (3) permitting copies of records to be made.

Aff. of Michael E. Stern, Ex. 2, at page 9 (emphasis in original). Defendant argues that the damage to the Boat was repaired prior to inspection, resulting in a breach of a condition precedent to coverage. See Def. Mem. 6-7.

Next, Defendant points to "Section Three: Physical Damage Coverage For Your Yacht and Equipment." Paragraph "D. UNREPAIRED DAMAGE" of that section provides as follows:

We do not cover any previously unrepaired damage which occurred either prior to the policy effective date shown in the declarations, or where you or any insured has previously received payment.

Aff. of Michael E. Stern, Ex. 2, at page 5. Defendant argues that "the policy does not provide coverage for unrepaired damage where the insured 'has previously received payment.'" See Def. Mem. at 8. Since a claim was previously paid for damages resulting from the April 2004 grounding, Defendant argues no additional coverage for damages from that occurrence is available. Id.

The third Policy provision relied upon by Defendant in support of its motion for summary judgment is contained in "Section One: General Policy Conditions and Limitations." Paragraph ...


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