A federal trial court in Pennsylvania recently ruled that the assertions made by the insureds were enough to overcome the insurer’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.1 On May 18, 2017, Nanette and Justin Bloxham’s home and contents were damaged by a fire. The home was a total loss.

One year later, Allstate Insurance Company denied the claim, stating:

Allstate’s investigation has determined that neither Nanette nor Justin resided at the Property. There were misrepresentations of fact material to the claim, including, but not limited to misrepresentations related to residency, condition of the Property prior to the fire, ownership of the Property, and issues regarding utilities at the Property.

Allstate took Justin’s examination under oath, where he produced a valid driver’s license with the address of the damaged property on it. He also testified that he lived there more than ten years before the fire. He slept there and was “settled there and made that residence his home. [He] had his personal belongings there and was at the home every day.”

In Allstate’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, they argued they are entitled to judgment because Nanette did not reside at the Property, and there was no evidence that Justin resided at the Property and because he made misrepresentations of material facts and circumstances. Plaintiffs conceded Nanette did not reside at the Property.

In denying Allstate’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court noted that Plaintiffs adequately alleged that Justin Bloxham resided at the Property. Accepting the allegations in the Amended Complaint as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in their favor, Plaintiffs plausibly pled that Justin Bloxham resided at the property at the time of the fire.

The Bloxham’s have escaped this dispositive motion for now. The trial court noted that it could not consider any investigative reports from Defendant—which included power usage bills and other lengthy exhibits—in its determination of a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.

As General Counsel for the Professional Public Adjusters Association of New Jersey (PPAANJ), I invite you to join me, Chip Merlin, and your public adjuster colleagues at the Fall meeting this Thursday at the Molly Pitcher Inn, where we have a great lineup of speakers to gain CE credits.

I leave you with a quote from author and life coach, Craig Lounsbrough:

Maybe we should remember that logic constructs a box that is far too small for wonder to take up residence in. Therefore, the crucial question is, ‘Will we choose to live there if wonder cannot?’
1 Bloxham v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 3:19-cv-0481, 2019 WL 5067306 (M.D. Penn. Oct. 9,  2019).