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Husband can’t recover insurance proceeds after wife burns down house

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The Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday held that when an insurance company includes an explicit exclusion in its policy to cover loss resulting from an intentional act by a co-insured, the court will enforce that exclusion. Because a man’s policy included such an exclusion, he can’t recover insurance proceeds after his wife burnt down their home on purpose.

Callie Deeter, believing her husband Rick was having an affair, intentionally set fire to their home. The Deeters had a homeowners insurance policy with Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance Co. insuring their home for $124,000. The policy contained an exclusion for intentional loss committed by an insured.  

Farmers refused to pay on the insurance policy because Callie Deeter intentionally burned down the home, thus it fell under the intentional loss exclusion of the insurance policy. Rick Deeter filed a claim for insurance proceeds, and both parties sought summary judgment. The trial court ruled in favor of the insurer.

The Court of Appeals rejected Rick Deeter’s arguments that the innocent spouse rule should apply in this case and that the policy exclusion shouldn’t apply because his wife did not intend to burn the house down to collect the insurance money.

“The undisputed designated evidence shows that Callie purposefully and intentionally burnt down her home, and Farmers was within the scope of its contractual rights to deny the Deeters’ insurance claim in accordance with the intentional loss exclusion contained in the policy,” Judge John Baker wrote in Rick Deeter v. Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, 43A04-1305-PL-229.
 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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