Advocating for insureds
Matthew R. Stall has specialized in insurance disputes for over sixteen years. He brings extensive experience and professionalism to every case and will customize his support to your individual needs and concerns. If you are having problems with your insurance company, including needing help reviewing correspondence or a denial letter, contact us and we will give you a free consultation. This includes fires, floods, duty to defend, and automobile collisions. Mr. Stall practices in both Southern and Northern California.
Mr. Stall recently won an appeal regarding important insurance issues: duty to defend and rescission. The 2nd District Court of Appeal (Alameda County/Oakland) reversed the lower court's decision granting the insurance company's summary judgment motion in a published decision in Duarte v. Pacific Specialty Insurance (see below).
The most important protection a landlord seeks with insurance is from lawsuits. Premiums are paid out in hopes that should a tenant sue – for a slip and fall, broken hand rail, retaliatory eviction or habitability – Farmers, Allstate, State Farm or PSIC will step in and defend the case.
In Duarte v. Pacific Specialty Insurance, (First District 6/12/17) the landlord was sued for habitability issues relating to a tenancy and the tenant tendered the suit to his insurance company. PSIC denied the claim and sought to rescind the insurance policy, claiming Duarte (the landlord and Mr. Stall's client) had not been truthful when he applied for the insurance. The trial court agreed and granted PSIC's summary judgment motion, which terminated the case.
In reversing the trial court, the Court of Appeal found the question “Has damage remained unrepaired from previous claims and/or pending claims …” to be reasonably understood as referring to insurance claims in the context of an insurance questionnaire. This rendered the question hopelessly ambiguous and Duarte’s answer that there were none truthful. Another question was “is there any type of business conducted on the premises?” when in fact the tenant kept motorcycle parts in the basement and sold them now and then. The court found this reasonably susceptible to Duarte’s belief that the question meant “ongoing business” like a store and not a monthly yard sale or occasional eBay buy and sell. Thus, the denial of trial court's decision in favor of PSIC was wrong and the matter was reversed. See the full opinion at http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A143828.PDF.
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4470 W. Sunset, # 92265
Los Angeles, California 90027
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