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Allstate Insurance Co. v. Van Scyoc

United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division

December 19, 2014

ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, an Illinois Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
FRED VAN SCYOC, BELINDA VAN SCYOC, KEN BARRETTE, and MARY BARRETTE, Defendants.

CYNTHIA L. MELLEMA, JEFFRY S. BUTLER, EMILY S. NOZICK, DENTONS U.S. LLP, San Francisco, CA, SUSAN WALKER, DENTONS U.S. LLP, Los Angeles, CA, Attorneys for Plaintiff, ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY.

UNCONTROVERTED FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW REGARDING ALLSTATE'S SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION AGAINST BARRETTE DEFENDANTS

MANUEL L. REAL, District Judge.

On November 3, 2014, the Court heard plaintiff Allstate Insurance Company's summary judgment motion on its claim for declaratory relief that it has no duty to indemnify defendants Ken and Mary Barrette for the judgment issued in the action entitled Barrette v. Van Scyoc, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, case number CV 120365. The Court, having considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the argument of counsel, makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law relative to that motion:

Summary judgment must be granted if the moving party shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 56(a).

An insurer has no duty to indemnify unless the awarded damages are actually within the scope of the policy's coverage. Collin v. American Empire Insurance Company, 21 Cal.App.4th 787 (1994). Under California law the interpretation of an insurance policy is a question of law. Waller v. Truck Insurance Exchange, 11 Cal.4th 1 (1995). When interpreting the language of an insurance policy the Court should give the words used their plain and ordinary meaning, unless the policy clearly indicates to the contrary. Giddings v. Industrial Indemnity Company, 112 Cal.App.3d 213 (1980).

Here, the insurance policy at issue provides as follows:

Subject to the terms, conditions and limitations of this policy, Allstate will pay damages which an insured person becomes legally obligated to pay because of bodily injury or property damage arising from an occurrence to which this policy applies, and is covered by this part of the policy.

The policy defines "occurrence" as an "accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions during the policy period, resulting in bodily injury or property damage." California courts interpret "accident" to mean "an unintentional, unexpected, chance occurrence." St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. Superior Court, 161 Cal.App.3d 1199 (1984).

Where an insured intended all of the acts resulting in harm, even if the insured did not intend to cause injury, the event does not constitute an "accident" for insurance coverage purposes. Ray v. Valley Forge Insurance Company, 77 Cal.App.4th 1039 (2000). As described by the statement of decision in the underlying state court action, the conduct at issue here was purely intentional and not accidental. Thus, damages resulting from such conduct are not within the scope of the policy's coverage which is limited to accidents. Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that Allstate's motion for summary judgment against the Barrette defendants is GRANTED.


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