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Landrum v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

October 9, 2019

KIMBERLY LANDRUM f/k/a KIMBERLY SHEPARD, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          TILMAN E. SELF, III, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Kimberly Landrum's vacation home in Milledgeville, Georgia, was damaged by water in early March of 201');">18. Defendant Allstate Insurance Company, with whom Plaintiff held a homeowners insurance policy, refused to cover the damage, leading to the instant dispute. Allstate removed the action to this Court from the State Court of Baldwin County, Georgia, and now moves for summary judgment. Because Allstate properly denied coverage, its motion is GRANTED.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff purchased a homeowners insurance policy from Allstate in 201');">17 that covers “sudden and accidental direct physical loss” to her Milledgeville, Georgia property. [Doc. 1');">1-1');">1, pp. 1');">11');">1, 29]. The Policy explicitly excludes coverage for

[s]eepage, meaning continuous or repeated seepage or leakage over a period of weeks, months, or years, of water, steam or fuel:
a) from a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic fire protection system or from within a domestic appliance; or
b) from within or around any plumbing fixtures, including, but not limited to shower stalls, shower baths, tub installations, sinks or other fixtures designed for the use of water or steam.

[Id. at 31');">1].

         On April 4, Plaintiff received a call from a neighbor informing her that the Milledgeville Water Department had left a note on her door. [Doc. 1');">13-1');">1, ¶ 3]. Plaintiff arrived at the property later that day and discovered water “spewing out from under the sink in the kitchen.” [Doc. 1');">10-1');">1, K. Landrum Depo., pp. 30:1');">17-31');">1:4]. There was approximately a half inch of water covering the main floor of the house, and some had seeped into the basement. [Doc. 1');">13-1');">1, ¶ 6]. Plaintiff turned off the water supply to the house and later determined that the water came from a supply line running from the kitchen sink to the refrigerator ice maker. [Id. at ¶ 5]; [Doc. 1');">10-1');">1, K. Landrum Depo., p. 35:1');">17-23]. According to the Milledgeville Water Department, the leak began at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 1');">11');">1, 201');">18, and ended at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4, 201');">18, with a total of “[a]pproximately 5 thousand gallons of water” running continuously at a rate of nine to ten gallons per hour for that 25-day period. [Doc. 1');">10-1');">1, K. Landrum Depo., p. 21');">10]; [Doc. 1');">13-1');">1, ¶¶ 22, 23].

         One day after discovering the spewing water, Plaintiff called Allstate to report the damage. [Doc. 1');">13-1');">1, ¶ 7]. Allstate adjuster Thomas Specht inspected the property on April 1');">16, 201');">18 and determined from examining mold growth that water had been coming out of the supply line for enough time to deny Plaintiff's claim. [Doc. 1');">10-2, T. Specht Depo., pp. 25:8-1');">13, 29:25-30:9, 42:1');">13-43:8]. Allstate sent Plaintiff a formal denial letter the following day, citing subsection (a) of the above-quoted Policy provision and explaining that the loss was “specifically excluded from coverage.” [Id. at p. 92].

         In her complaint, Plaintiff claims that the water damage to her property is covered under the Policy and that Allstate's denial of coverage constituted a bad-faith breach of the Policy. [Doc. 1');">1-1');">1, ¶¶ 24-27, 32]. Allstate now moves for summary judgment, arguing that the Policy clearly excludes coverage, and the Court agrees.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         A party is entitled to summary judgment “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). As to issues for which the movant would bear the burden of proof at trial, the “movant must affirmatively show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and support its motion with credible evidence demonstrating that no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party on all of the essential elements of its case.” Landolfi v. City of Melbourne, 1');">15 Fed.Appx. 832');">51');">15 Fed.Appx. 832, 834 (1');">11');">1th Cir. 201');">13) (citing Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1');">11');">11');">12');">2 F.3d 1');">11');">11');">12, 1');">11');">11');">15 (1');">11');">1th Cir. 1');">1993)). As to issues for which the non-movant would bear the burden of proof at trial, the movant may (1');">1) simply point out an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case or (2) provide “affirmative evidence demonstrating that the [non-movant] ...


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