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COA reverses in part judgment for agents on man’s insurance claim lawsuit

January 14, 2015

Finding the owner of a home that burned designated additional evidence which created a genuine issue of material fact, summary judgment should not have been awarded to agents on his claim, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.

Christopher Schmidt appealed summary judgment granted in favor of Indiana Insurance, C&F Insurance Group and Bart Stith. Schmidt inherited a New Albany home that he allowed his cousin to live in without property insurance. Officials were called to the home due to foul smells and emaciated animals living inside. The house was condemned.

Schmidt met with Stith about obtaining insurance for the property after it was condemned. There is a dispute as to whether he told Stith that the home was not occupied by a tenant and that he was cleaning up the property. Indiana Insurance issued a dwelling fire policy for the property. A couple months later, it burned and Schmidt reported the loss to Indiana Insurance. The company initially suspected arson, but it later refused to pay out on Schmidt’s claim because it alleged he falsified information on the application. It rescinded the policy and returned his premiums paid.

Schmidt sued, and C&F and Stith, referred to as the agents in the court record, and Indiana Insurance moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted.

But in Christopher Schmidt v. Indiana Insurance Co., C&F Insurance Group, LLC, and Bart Stith, 22A01-1403-PL-135, the COA reversed with regard to the agents, finding Schmidt designated two parts of his deposition, statements in his verified complaint and other materials in support of there being a material fact as to whether he told Stith of the condition of the property and whether he signed the insurance application. He claimed he didn’t remember signing it; Stith testified he saw Schmidt sign the application.

But the appeals court affirmed with regard to Indiana Insurance, noting Schmidt never responded to its motion for summary judgment.

The case is remanded for further proceedings.

 

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