Stankova v. Metro. Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 05-29-2015
  • Case #: 12-17575
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam; Circuit Judges Schroeder and Smith, and District Judge Gleason
  • Full Text Opinion

Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a triable issue of fact.

Magda Stankova and Victor Nikolaev (“Stankova”) purchased homeowner’s insurance through Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company (“Metropolitan”). Stankova's policy covered fire damage, but explicitly excluded recovery for damage due to floodwater or earth movement, unless those damages were caused by a fire. In the summer of 2011, a massive wildfire destroyed Stankova’s detached garage. One month after the fire, flooding and mudslides severely damaged Stankova’s home. Stankova sought coverage under her homeowner’s policy for the loss of the garage and home. However, Metropolitan refused to cover the house, concluding that the mudslide was not directly caused by the wildfire. The district court granted Metropolitan’s motion for summary judgment, and Stankova appealed. The Ninth Circuit determined that Arizona law favors a broader interpretation of “direct causation.” Thus, the panel concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment, as there was a triable issue as to whether the fire directly caused the destruction of Stankova’s home. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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