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Rocklane Company, LLC v. Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

January 13, 2020

Rocklane Company, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America, Defendant. Sycamore Village Homeowners Association, Inc., Consol. Plaintiff.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson Chief Judge

         In this consolidated case, Plaintiffs Rocklane Company, LLC, (“Rocklane”) and Sycamore Village Homeowners Association, Inc. (“the HOA”) brought claims against Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America (“Travelers”) following a windstorm that allegedly damaged the roofs of buildings in the Sycamore Village condominium complex (“Sycamore Village”). Travelers filed a Motion for Summary Judgment as to the HOA's claim that Travelers breached its duty of good faith, [Filing No. 65], which the Court denied, [Filing No. 93]. This Order outlines the Court's reasoning for that denial.

         I.

         Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Williams v. Brooks, 809 F.3d 936, 941-42 (7th Cir. 2016). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome-determinative. Montgomery v. American Airlines Inc., 626 F.3d 382, 389 (7th Cir. 2010). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Gekas v. Vasilades, 814 F.3d 890, 896 (7th Cir. 2016). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Skiba v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 884 F.3d 708, 717 (7th Cir. 2018). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. Miller v. Gonzalez, 761 F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to “scour every inch of the record” for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them. Grant v. Trustees of Indiana University, 870 F.3d 562, 573-74 (7th Cir. 2017). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

         II.

         Statement of Facts

         The following factual background is set forth pursuant to the standards detailed above. The facts stated are not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light most favorable to “the party against whom the motion under consideration is made.” Premcor USA, Inc. v. American Home Assurance Co., 400 F.3d 523, 526-27 (7th Cir. 2005).

         Sycamore Village is a nineteen-building condominium complex located in Bloomington, Indiana. [Filing No. 1-2 at 4; Filing No. 74-9 at 54.] The HOA is responsible for maintaining and repairing the roofs, as well as purchasing and maintaining casualty insurance. [Filing No. 74-1 at 8; Filing No. 74-1 at 13.] To that end, the HOA purchased a casualty insurance policy from Travelers (“the Policy”). [Filing No. 1-2 at 3-183.] The Policy covers physical loss or damage to Sycamore Village, unless the loss was the result of a cause that was excluded from coverage, such as wear and tear or faulty or defective workmanship, repair, construction, or maintenance. [Filing No. 1-2 at 15-18; Filing No. 1-2 at 38-40.]

         The roofs on the Sycamore Village buildings were installed between 2000 and 2002. [Filing No. 74-21 at 1.] Prior to February 2016, the HOA had intended to begin routine replacement of the roofs in 2022. [Filing No. 74-2 at 13-14.] The shingles used on the original Sycamore Village roofs were Elk Capstone shingles in the color Moss Rose, which were manufactured by a company called GAF but had been discontinued in 2012 and thus are no longer commercially available in significant quantities. [Filing No. 66-1 at 19; Filing No. 66-8 at 5; Filing No. 74-5 at 6-8.] No. other shingles have been manufactured by GAF that would be an exact color match to the Elk Capstone Moss Rose shingles. [Filing No. 66-10 at 2; Filing No. 74-5 at 17.]

         On February 19, 2016, there was a storm in Bloomington that brought high winds. [Filing No. 74-2 at 14-15.] Thereafter, residents of Sycamore Village noticed damage to the roofs, including missing and “misaligned” or sliding shingles. [Filing No. 74-2 at 17-19; Filing No. 74-7 at 1-2.] The HOA hired Rocklane to repair the roofs. [Filing No. 66-2 at 1.] Rocklane is a GAF Member Elite Contractor, meaning it qualifies as one of the best roofing contractors in the country and meets certain requirements imposed by GAF. [Filing No. 74-5 at 4-5; Filing No. 74-8 at 1-2.]

         Rocklane went to Sycamore Village on March 9, 2016 to inspect the roofs and perform temporary repairs. [Filing No. 74-10 at 16.] Kevin Kortzendorf, a Rocklane employee, stated that he saw “massive amounts of shingle damage around the roofs” when he arrived at Sycamore Village, including “areas on every building . . . where shingles had been torn from their nails, sliding out, [and] sliding down.” [Filing No. 74-10 at 17.] He and other Rocklane employees inspected all of the buildings in the Sycamore Village complex. [Filing No. 74-10 at 27.]

         Rocklane performed temporary repairs by pushing dislodged shingles back into place and securing them with cap nails.[1] [Filing No. 74-10 at 13.] The temporary cap nail repair cost $100 per building for a total of $1900. [Filing No. 74-10 at 11; Filing No. 74-10 at 32.] Randal Adkins, one of Rocklane's owners, averred that regardless of whether temporary repairs at Sycamore Village were completed using cap nails or using tarps secured with lengths of wood nailed to the roof, undamaged shingles would have been damaged in the course of the repair because both methods require driving nails through undamaged shingles adjacent to damaged areas. [Filing No. 74-8 at 3.] He opined that a temporary repair with the tarp method would have been more expensive and caused more damage than the cap nail method. [Filing No. 74-8 at 3.]

         The HOA reported the roof damage to Travelers on April 5, 2016. [Filing No. 66-4 at 1.] Travelers assigned Kristen Kulikowski[2] as the adjuster on the claim. [Filing No. 66-6 at 2.] The HOA hired a public adjuster, Matthew Latham from Crossroad Claim ...


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