Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Thiele v. Kentucky Growers Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Kentucky

June 15, 2017

WANDA JEAN THIELE, ET AL APPELLANTS
v.
KENTUCKY GROWERS INSURANCE COMPANY APPELLEE

         ON REVIEW FROM COURT OF APPEALS CASE NO. 2013-CA-002165-MR ROCKCASTLE CIRCUIT COURT NO. ll-CI-00329

         AFFIRMING.

          COUNSELLOR APPELLANTS: Robert R. Baker RANKIN 8b BAKER, PLLC.

          COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Don Arlie Pisacano Elizabeth C. Wood ford MILLER, GRIFFIN & MARKS, P.S.C.

          COUNSEL FOR AMICUS CURIAE AMERICAN INSURANCE ASSOCIATION and INSURANCE INSTITUTE OF KENTUCKY: Michael Shea Maloney Stephen Conner Keller SCHILLER BARNES MALONEY PLLC.

          OPINION OF THE COURT BY JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM

         In 2004, Hiram Campbell purchased a homeowner's insurance policy from the Appellee, Kentucky Growers Insurance Company ("Insurer"). The policy provided coverage for Hiram's home located in Brodhead, Kentucky. The policy was self-renewing and continued in effect after Hiram died in late 2005. Following Hiram's death, his daughter, Appellant Wanda Thiele ("Thiele"), moved into Hiram's residence. She was also the executrix of Hiram's estate.

         In January 2011, Thiele moved the refrigerator and discovered termite infestation. Additional termite damage was discovered throughout the home, including damage to wall paneling and flooring. Upon discovering the damage, Thiele contacted Insurer to make a claim under the homeowner's policy provision covering collapse. That provision provides:

8. Collapse - "We" pay for direct physical loss . . . involving the collapse of a building or part of a building caused by only the following:
(b) hidden insect or vermin decay;

         Collapse does not mean settling, cracking, bulging, or expanding. Because no collapse had occurred, Insurer denied Thiele's claim. As a result, Thiele filed a declaration of rights claim in Rockcastle Circuit Court. Insurer answered and filed a motion for a declaratory judgment in its favor. The trial court conducted a hearing and subsequently issued a judgment in Thiele's favor. On appeal, a unanimous Court of Appeals' panel reversed the trial court. Having reviewed the record and the law, we affirm the Court of Appeals' decision and remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings.

         Analysis

         "It is well settled that the proper interpretation of insurance contracts generally is a matter of law to be decided by a court; and, thus, an appellate court uses a de novo, not a deferential, standard of review." Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Motorists Mutlns., 306 S.W.3d 69, 73 (Ky. 2010). The controlling case here is Niagara Fire Ins. Co. v. Curtsinger, 361 S.W.2d 762, 763 (Ky. 1962). Curtsinger defined collapse as follows:

The word 'collapse' in connection with a building or other structure' has a well-understood common meaning. Webster's Collegiate dictionary defines the word as, '(1) To break down or go to pieces suddenly, especially by falling in of sides; to cave in.'
It seems to us that the mere subsidence of the floor of the porch, which pulled it and the roof away from the building a few inches, cannot be regarded as the collapse of any part of the building, and that the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.