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Michael F. Schmidt Obtains Summary Disposition In Property Insurance Claim

Anna Geck v Allied Property & Casualty Insurance Company, Wayne County Circuit Court. Plaintiff filed suit seeking to recover for alleged storm damage to her property. After discovery, we filed a motion for summary disposition on the basis that the suit was barred by the plaintiff’s failure to comply with the policy condition regarding Suit Against Us for failing to bring the suit within one year after the insurer formally denied liability. We argued that immediately after the loss Allied investigated the loss and paid the maximum coverage available which was $10,000 under the so-called sewer backup endorsement. The insured was provided a denial letter that the maximum coverage had been provided and that there was no further coverage available. The insured objected and asked for a second denial letter which was then sent. The insured objected again and at that time the insurer obtained an expert who examined the plaintiff’s premises once again finding there was no additional coverage available. A third denial letter was sent which also quoted the Suit Against Us condition of the policy advising that the claim had been denied and that if the insured was to file suit she must do so within one year of the insurer formally denying liability. The plaintiff filed suit almost two full years after the denial letter which was one year too late. The plaintiff responded to the motion arguing that the insurance policy was a contract of adhesion, that the policy provision was unconscionable, that there was an independent action for fraud, for violation of the Uniform Trade Practices Act and for violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. We filed a reply brief arguing that per the Supreme Court decision in Rory v Continental Insurance Company, 473 Mich 457, 491 (2005), the specific policy provision was not an adhesion contract or unconscionable. Further, the provision limited and applied to all limitation periods for all claims, that there was no fraud exception and that the UTPA and MCPA claims were also meritless based on appellate decisions that they did not provide for any private cause of action. After reviewing the briefs and hearing oral argument, the trial court granted our motion for summary disposition on all grounds raised.