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Snyder v. Foremost Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division

November 19, 2018




         This cause comes before the Court on Defendant Foremost Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, for Partial Summary Judgment [38]. Plaintiffs filed their response and memorandum in support [54, 55], and Defendant has filed a reply [48]. Having reviewed the pleadings, the parties' submissions, the record in this matter, and the applicable law, and otherwise being fully advised in the premises, the Court finds the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is well taken and will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the Court accepts as true the factual statements made by Lissa Snyder in her declaration in opposition to summary judgment. [52]. The following recitation of facts comes from her declaration and are supplemented by other undisputed evidence in the record:

         Lissa Snyder is the daughter of Dorothy Snyder. [52] ¶ 1. Lissa has lived on “heir property” on Highway 33 in Fayette, Mississippi for the past seventeen (17) years. Id. ¶ 3. Prior to 2010, Lissa lived in a mobile home that her aunt owned, where she lived with her father until he died in 2008. Id. After her father died, Lissa continued to live in that mobile home until it was destroyed by fire in 2009. Id. She owned all the contents in that mobile home. Id. All of her contents in that mobile home were completely destroyed by the 2009 fire. She had insurance on her contents with American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, with whom she filed a claim for the fire loss. Id.; [38-16] at 3-4. On February 5, 2010, American Bankers paid Lissa $44, 159.43, which she deposited into her bank account. [52] ¶ 3; [38-16] at 3; [38-17].

         After Lissa's aunt 's mobile home and Lissa's contents were destroyed by fire, her mother, Dorothy Snyder, helped Lissa purchase a mobile home for Lissa to put on the heir property. [52] ¶ 8. Dorothy and Lissa purchased the replacement mobile home in 2010 for $11, 000.00, with each of them paying one half of the purchase price. Id. Lissa purchased the replacement mobile home in her mother's name although Lissa was the one who had her bank wire the $11, 000.00 purchase price from Lissa's account to the seller. Id.; [38-17]. The title was put in Dorothy's name because Dorothy wanted to make sure Lissa had somewhere to stay. [38-5] p. 17. Lissa used part of the money paid by American Bankers on the fire loss to pay her half of the cost of the new mobile home and to purchase contents, clothes, and remodel the replacement mobile home. [52] ¶ 9. Lissa and Dorothy insured the new mobile home with American Bankers, the same insurance company that insured Lissa's contents on her aunt's mobile home from 2010 until 2014 and paid the prior contents loss in 2010. [52] ¶¶ 13, 18.

         Dorothy lived at 283 Pine Street in Fayette, where her son and grandson stayed with her, and she would visit Lissa. [38-8] at Ex. A (DS/FIC 00418); [52] ¶ 23. In late 2013 and early 2014, Dorothy started forgetting things occasionally, and Lissa asked Dorothy to stay with her from time to time so that Lissa could watch her, which Dorothy did from 2014 until 2017. [52] ¶¶ 13, 23. Dorothy started staying with Lissa in about mid May 2014. Id. ¶ 17. Due to Dorothy's health, Dorothy asked Lissa to speak for her. Id. ¶ 13. Since January or early February 2014, Lissa has conducted Dorothy's business as Dorothy Snyder at Dorothy's authorization and direction. [52] ¶¶ 13-14. In August 2015, Dorothy granted Lissa a Durable General Power of Attorney. [52] ¶ 22; Ex. to [52] at p. 15-18.

         Because the yearly insurance premiums kept rising with American Bankers, in 2014, Lissa discussed with Dorothy getting a cheaper insurance, and Dorothy agreed to help Lissa. [52] ¶ 13. Dorothy asked Lissa to find a cheaper insurance and get it in Dorothy's name. Id. ¶ 16. In early 2014, Dorothy gave Lissa permission to speak for her in getting insurance on their mobile home and contents. Id. Lissa found a cheaper rate at Foremost and called the company with Dorothy's permission and authorization for Lissa to speak for her. Id. In February 20, 2014, Lissa called Foremost to get insurance on the mobile home. [52] ¶ 16; [38-6] at Ex. A (DS/FIC 00414).[1] The insurance representative asked questions of Lissa as Dorothy Snyder, and Lissa answered the questions as Dorothy Snyder. [52] ¶ 16. During the February 20, 2014 conversation, the following relevant exchanges occurred:

Dorothy: Yes, I was trying to get a quote on some homeowner's insurance.
Jane: Alright, we can do that for you. All of our phone calls are recorded, and it takes about 15 minutes or so, is that okay?
Jane: Alright, go ahead with your last name. Dorothy: Snyder, S N Y D E R.
Jane: Okay, and your first name. Dorothy: D O R O T H Y.
Jane: Alright, and what state are you in? Dorothy: Mississippi.
Jane: Okay, and do you have a spouse or anyone else that lives there with you? Dorothy: No.
Jane: Okay. And now the physical address of the home.
Dorothy: 1118 Highway 33, Fayette in Mississippi.
Jane: Okay. And is this your primary residence?
Dorothy: Yes.
Jane: Okay, and what year is your home?
Dorothy: A 1998 Chandelier.
Jane: And when did you buy your home?
Dorothy: Last week.
Jane: Well, congratulations. Dorothy: Thank you.
Jane: Will the home ever be vacant or rented out or is it your full-time residence?
Dorothy: It will be a residence.
Jane: Okay, in the past five years, have you been cancelled or non-renewed for any type of insurance policy.
Dorothy: No.
Jane: Any claims or losses of any kind in the past five ...

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