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Ellison v. Allstate Indem. Co.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

May 4, 2015

STEPHEN J. ELLISON ANITA L. ELLISON, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALLSTATE INDEMNITY COMPANY, Defendant

For Stephen J. Ellison, Anita L. Ellison, Plaintiffs: Christopher S. Ciaccio, LEAD ATTORNEY, Christopher S. Ciaccio, Attorney at Law, Rochester, NY.

For Allstate Indemnity Company, Defendant: Patrick B. Omilian, Goldberg Segalla LLP, Buffalo, NY.

DECISION AND ORDER

DAVID G. LARIMER, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs Stephen and Anita Ellison (the " Ellisons" ) bring this action against Allstate Indemnity Company (" Allstate" ), seeking coverage for water damage pursuant to a property insurance policy they had purchased from Allstate. Allstate now moves for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, on the grounds that its denial of coverage to the Ellisons for the underlying damages was justified by one or more applicable policy exclusions. (Dkt. #47). For the reasons discussed below, the motion is denied.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In or about November 2011, the Ellisons purchased a homeowners insurance policy (the " Policy" ) from Allstate, effective November 16, 2011, to cover potential losses to their home, located at 223 Black Walnut Drive in Greece, New York.

The Policy provided, in relevant part:

We will cover sudden and accidental direct physical loss to property . . . except as limited or excluded in this policy . . .

Losses We Do Not Cover Under Coverages A and B:

We do not cover loss to property . . . consisting of or caused by . . . wear and tear, aging, marring scratching, deterioration, inherent vice, or latent defect . . . mechanical breakdown . . . rust or corrosion, mold, wet or dry rot . . . Seepage, meaning continuous or repeated seepage or leakage over a period of weeks, months, or years, of water, steam or fuel: (a) from a plumbing [system] . . ."

Dkt. #54-4 at 27 et seq.

On or about the afternoon of December 25, 2011, Anita Ellison discovered that the basement floor in the Ellison home was soaked with water, and that water appeared to be leaking down copper pipes extending from the first floor. In attempting to locate the source of the leak, the Ellisons discovered that the drywall under their kitchen sink was soaking wet, to the point that it disintegrated when touched. On December 26, 2011 the Ellisons notified Allstate of the leak. On or about December 30 or 31, 2011, plumber John Ritter located and replaced a cracked, uninsulated copper drain pipe, situated within the exterior wall behind the kitchen sink cabinet. On January 10, 2012, Allstate adjustor Edward Clifton (" Clifton" ) came to the premises to inspect the damage, and concluded that the pipe had split due to " wear and tear," and that discoloration, softening and deterioration of the building materials around the pipe suggested that the leak had begun before December 25, 2011. (Dkt. #47-2 at ¶ 14).

On January 13, 2012, Allstate issued a letter disclaiming coverage, on the grounds of the exclusions for wear and tear, mechanical breakdown, continuous or repeated seepage, and inadequate planning, design, materials or maintenance.

The Ellisons thereafter commenced the instant action, requesting compensatory and punitive damages totaling $1,500,000.00. (Dkt. #1-3). The Ellisons claim that Allstate breached the terms of the Policy and inappropriately relied on the exclusions, because the damage at issue was precipitated by the ...


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