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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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