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State Farm Fire & Casualty Company v. Nuuanu Baptist Church

April 30, 2012

STATE FARM FIRE & CASUALTY COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NUUANU BAPTIST CHURCH, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barry M. Kurren United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Before the Court is Plaintiff State Farm Fire and Casualty Company's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 15.) The Court heard this Motion on April 11, 2012. After careful consideration of the Motion, the supporting and opposing memoranda, and the arguments of counsel, State Farm's Motion is GRANTED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

I. The Underlying Lawsuit

On March 17, 2010, Kenneth and Lynette Sunamoto ("the Sunamotos") filed suit against Defendant Nuuanu Baptist Church ("NBC") in state court. The Sunamotos and NBC are neighbors. (Underlying Complaint ¶ 6.) The Sunamotos allege that their property includes a 30 foot wide driveway, "which is subject to a 'right of way for any and all purposes' running in favor of portions of land owned by [NBC]." (Id. ¶ 5.) The Sunamotos allege that NBC has unreasonably burdened the Right of Way by conduct including the following: 1) allowing parking on the Right of Way, 2) converting the Right of Way into a thoroughfare by actively diverting onto it an unreasonable amount of traffic, some not even church related, 3) using the Right of Way as a pick up and drop off spot for their church and preschool, 4) inviting or conducting multiple congregations at all times of the day and weekends, 5) and converting the Right of Way to an impermissible commercial, non-residential use. (Id. at ¶ 11.) The Sunamotos pray for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as for damages, fees, and costs.

II. The Present Lawsuit

State Farm holds two insurance policies, under which NBC is the insured. NBC tendered the defense of the Underlying Lawsuit to State Farm. (Quinn Decl'n ¶ 7.) State Farm is defending NBC as to all claims in the Underlying Lawsuit, subject to a reservation of rights. (Id. ¶ 8.) In this federal suit, State Farm seeks a declaration that it owes no duty to defend or indemnify NBC for claims asserted by the Sunamotos in the Underlying Lawsuit.

The two policies issued by State Farm to NBC are (1) a Church Policy, No. 91-20-4751-8 as modified by Policy Endorsement FE-6656 and (2) a Commercial Liability Umbrella Policy, No. 91-BD-7692-3 as modified by Policy Endorsement FE-8730. (Exs. A & B.) Both Policies provide coverage for "property damage" and "personal injury."

A. Property Damage

The Church Policy provides coverage for "sums the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of . . . property damage . . . to which this insurance applies." (Exhibit A at Coverage L - Business Liability.) Likewise, the Umbrella Policy provides coverage if the insured is "legally obligated to pay damages for . . . property damage . . . to which this insurance applies." (Ex. B at Coverage L - Business Liability.)

The Policies provide identical definitions of "property damage":

a. physical injury to or destruction of tangible property, including all resulting loss of use of that property. All such loss of use will be considered to occur at the time of the physical injury that caused it; or

b. loss of use of tangible property that is not physically injured or destroyed, provided such loss of use is caused by physical injury to or destruction of other tangible property. All such loss of use will be ...


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