Adams v. Cameron Mut. Ins. Co. (Majority, with Concurring)Annotate this Case
Petitioners had a homeowners' insurance policy with Respondent that covered Petitioners' dwelling. The policy stated that any covered loss would be paid based on actual cash value, rather than replacement value, but the policy did not define the term "actual cash value." After Petitioners' dwelling was damaged by a tornado, Respondent valued Petitioners' loss at $48,647 after calculating the repair costs and the depreciation of the items requiring repair. Petitioners brought a class action in federal district court against Respondent, alleging that Respondent breached the insurance policy, and those policies of the putative class members, when it improperly applied a depreciation factor to the labor portion of repairs required at their respective dwellings. Specifically, Petitioners contend that their policy's failure to address depreciation of labor rendered the policy's term "actual cash value" ambiguous. The federal district court certified a question of law to the Supreme Court, which answered by holding that an insurer, in determining the "actual cash value" of a covered loss under an indemnity insurance policy, may not depreciate the costs of labor when the term "actual cash value" is not defined in the policy.