-RSB Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company v. Atwood et al, No. 7:2011cv00524 - Document 38 (W.D. Va. 2012)

Court Description: MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Samuel G. Wilson on 10/1/12. (eot)
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CLERKS OFFI t. DI K URT CE JS. ST. AT ROANOKE, VA FI LED 2C1 q1 2 1 22 2 UkZ I TH E U N I N TED STA TES D I STR I T CO U R T C FO R TH E W ESTERN DI STRI OF VI CT RGI A NI RO AN O K E D IVISIO N N A TI N W I E M U TU AL O D I SU RA N C E C O M PA N Y , N Pl nt f , ai i f TER ESA A TW O O D et>#, . D ef ndant . e s ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) BY ; C i lA c i N o.7: v00524 vi t on 11: M EM OR AND U M O PI O N NI By:Sam uelG .W ison l U nie St esD i t i tJudge t d at src Thi i adi riyaci ptrua t 28U. C.j 1 2byNai deM ut I urnce s s vest ton ls nt o S. 33 tonwi ualns a Company(s tonwi ',anOhi bas i urnc c ny,a ns Tee aandTi hy t i de' Na ) o- ed ns a e ompa gai t rs mot At o , iie o Vigni a dNain d p l y-o d r, e kigad caao yj dg n wo d ctz ns f r i a n to wi e oi h le s s e n e lrtr u me t c unde 28U. C.j2201t t efe tt tNai wieha nola lt coveagef t a cde a r S. o he fc ha ton d s ibiiy r or he c i ntl de t ofac l t toc un'd i t c s oft At ah hid ha c e n he our e he woods'home bas d c l a e busne s The - e hidc r i s. At woods homeo r la lt polc whih i l d ac l r c r ge e s m e , ' wne s ibiiy iy, c ncude hidca e ove a ndore nt e ude la lt c r e w hen t num berofchidr n i t At o 'ca e e e ed sx. xcl d i biiy ove ag he l e n he w ods r xc ed i A fe a be h t i i i now a r ntt tt At oodse s ntaly ag e t tt y w e e ope a i t r nc ral t s ppa e ha he w s e i l r e ha he r r tng t rc l a ebusnes s a t brng i wihi t tpolc e l i Theprncpalr mai ng hei hidc r i s o s o i t t n ha i y xc uson. i i e ni que ton i w he herN a i si s t t onwi s c de' onduc be o e t a i nts d e t i f om de ng t f r he cc de houl s op t r nyi c r . Ba e on t e de e pr s nt d a t i , he c tfndsno ba i f es o ng ove age sd he vi nc e e e t ral t our i s s or t ppi N a i i and dec a e t tt i u a e polc pr de no la lt c r ge f t tonw de l r s ha he ns r nc i y ovi s i biiy ove a or he a i nt1 cc de . lNa i dei a Ohi c po ai w ih isprncpa pl eofbusnes i Ohi ,t At tonwi s n o or r ton t t i i l ac i s n o he woodsaecii ns r tze o Vi naa dteeimoeta $ 50 0i cnrvrye l ieo itrsa dcss Ro rT n Ng ,h f r i,n hr s r hn 7 ,0 n oto es xcusv fneet n ot. bet hah o te ji a i srt oft e tt ofhi dec as d s hasit r nedasapa t andi S em e t beaciie onl oP' dm nltaor he sae s e e on, n eve ry sç de d o tz n y Vigna p ru n t 2 U. C. 13 c() Be a s Ng sitrssi ti matraesr n l ain dwi te rii, u s a to 8 S. j 3 2()2 . cu e o' neet n hs te r to gy l e t h g h At woods,t cou talgnedhi w iht At oodsa adefnda .Tot e e N go' ctz ns p i ofa ' he r i m t he w s e nt he xtnt s iie hi s ny sg i neh ipo el aindwihteAt o so tecvrg j eto beoeti cut S eLot inf c,e s rpry lg e t h wo d n h oeae usin fr hs or. e tv. ka S otd l ls Co, 1 F. u p 2 120 1 2 ( D. . 01 ) gll welstldi teF u t Cic ita t c ts ae n . .8 1 S p . d 2 , 2 4 E. Va 2 1 Ct ts l ete n h o rh ruth the l - .C ZRK Y ' - 1. The c r m ake t f l i tndi off c : Si e a l s 1 ou t s he olow ng i ngs a t nc t ea t 995,t A t oodsha he w ve ope a e ac l a ebusnes outoft rhome.I 1 r t d hidc r i s hei n 995, heAt t woodso ane ahomeo r bt i d wne s i ur nc polc fo N a i de,2w hih t ha r ne d e c ye rsnc .3 Thepolcy ns a e iy r m tonwi c hey ve e we a h a i e i i l ncuded auhome c r s r c ' e s m e pr di $1 000 i la lt c r f bo l a e e vies' ndore nt ovi ng 00, n ibiiy ove age or diy ij r a dp o ryd ma eaiigo tteAt o s c id aeb ie s s ln a teAt o s n u y n r pet n g rsn u h wo d ' hl c r usn s, o o g s h wo d c r d f sx orf we c l r n. l t numberexc e sx, hepolc e es l e l a e or i e r hid e f he e ded i t iy xpr sy xcuded cov r ge.TheAt ea woodsabi d by t po iy' sx- hid lmi untlM a c of2009 whe M r de he lc s i c l i t i r h , n . At o ls h stu k- rvngj ba dteAt o ssa tda c pi mo ecins Bymi- 01 , wo d o t i r c d ii o n h wo d tre c e t ng r l t. e d2 0 t At oo w e e ca i f el ve c l r n. he w ds r rng or e n hid e A r und t ttm e M r A t ood ca l d a N a i o ha i , . w le tonwi i tr nce a nt J ne Huf ,t de nsla ge , a t f o i ra nquie bouti ur ecove agef abr n wi hi l Durngt conve s ton,M r At ns anc r or oke nds ed. i he r ai . wood m e i nedt the a hi wiewe e c rng f elve c l e a t i ho e.Huf kne t tt nto ha nd s f r a i or e n hidr n t he r m f w ha he At woods polc lmie t ntmbe ofc l e t fwe t nee n(houg s wasl ur of ' iy i td he l r hidrn o e r ha lve t h he ms e t e tlmi) a s c yeda muc ove t phone.Huf t dMr At he xac i t, nd he onve s h r he f ol . woodt ts ha he woul i tgaet m at rf t a c l ba k.Ac or ng t M r At d nvesi t he te urher nd a l c c di o . wood' ti t tmony, s ral esi by t e oft co r a i he unde s ood t thi b i s m i htnotha c r whe he nd he nve s ton rt ha s usne s g ve ove age n ts frdeemiigtepo e ain nt fhep risiat -tpp o e s S e i c ly t c ut s:i et o tr nn h rp r lg me o t at s wose r c s, p ct al,he o rmu t() e i d tr netep i r is ei tec nrv ry a d(iaintep riswi rs c t ti p i r is e' (in eemi h rmay su n h o to es ; n i) l h at t epet o hs rmay su .) ct g g e h ' i U. Fi. Gu rnvCo v A&SMf Co, F.d1 1 1 3(t Ci. 9 5 ) S. d & aa t . . a. .48 3 3 , 3 4h r 1 9 ). 2TheAt woodsas ha a û br l polc 'wihN ainwi . Net rt At lo ve n i ela iy' t to de ihe he woodsnorNgo c t nd um on e t tt At ha he woodsaeenild t coveageu ert polcy. r tte o r nd hat i 3Thede l r tonspage oft hom e ca ai he owne spolc sa est tt polcy pe i r n fom Fe ua y 27, 2010 r i y t t ha he i r od a r br r t Fe uay27, l Atti , ai de' unde rt rt siid t t polc wasis d onFe uay 27,201 o br r 20l . ralN tonwi s m ie etfe hat he iy s ue br r 0, a t parisneve c ese t daeofis e.Howe ,t d lr tonspagepl nl s ws çs ue AUG nd he te r ont t d hat t suanc ver he eca ai ai y ho ,t s d: l 25,201 ' Ande bi l w hi i ab i srcor ofNa i de' c m u cai w iht At ds, hows 0.7 xhi t 7, ch s usnes e d tonwi s om ni tons t he woo s a t i c sse t t teis a c o an w p l yi Au u t f 0 ( .1 , -6 ECFNo 3 -7)Th c ut ci t onitn wi h su n e f e oi n g s o 201 . Ex 7 5 , vy h c . 61. e or a tm ptdt r ol t dicr nc a tilbutha ltl s c s Rega des ,hepr ciedaeofis nc i te e o es ve he s epa y t ra d ite uc es . rl st es t s ua e s i aera t t co tsr as ni mm t il o he ur' e o ng. ca i f ee n c l e Afe t phonecal Huf ve i d t At rng or lve hidr n. tr he l, f rfe he woods polcydea l and ' i tis l d i o m or s t bl c r opto . A f da l t r s c l M r A t ood ba k. ooke nt e uia e ove age i ns ew ys a e , he aled . w c Huf t d M r At f ol . wood t tt homeo r polc di notc rac l a e b i spr di ha he wne s iy d ove hidc r usnes ovi ng c r t m or t n s x c l e b t ta ( m m e ci l' i y m i httthi ne . She e a ne ae o e ha i hidr n, ut ha d co r a ' polc g i s eds xpl i d t tt At ha he woodswoul ne d a sa elc ns t c r f mor t n sx c l e a t tt y d e tt ie e o a e or e ha i hidr n, nd ha he s d r duc t numbe ofc l e i t i c r . At houl e e he r hidr n n her a e wood i ca e t thewoul s be ndi t d ha d oon r smigh stu k-rvngj b alwi t ec id aeb sn s t s dcin sa drn eiga e u n i r c d ii o , lo ng h h lc r u ie s o he le t n e d rn dif r ntpolc um l c s r fe e iy e es a y. A f w mont l tr i lt Se e rof201 aone ye r ol boy nn e And Ngo did e hs ae , n a e pt mbe 0, - a- d m d y e whie i t At oo 'ca e. A ndy' f t r Robe tTha N go, tng a t ad i sr t of l n he w ds r s a he , r nh ac i s he m ni t a or And se tt ,br y' sa e oughta wr ngf - ah a to i t Cic tCour f rt Ciy ofRoa o ulde t c in n he r ui t o he t noke s ki $6. milo fom t At ee ng 5 li n r he woods W he t At . n he woodst r d t Na i def la lt u ne o tonwi or i biiy c v rg a dt erlg ld f n e Nain d o fr dad fn es b e t oisrs r aino t e o ea e n h i e a ee s , to wie fee e e s u j c t t ee v to f h rg tt b igteisa td caao yj d me ta to , e yc v r g , n wih rw 9o t e i h o rn h n tn e lrt r u g n cin d n o ea e a d t d a m h de e e albas d on t polc sexcuson f c l ca ebusne s pr di ca et m o e f ns - l e he i y' l i or hid r i s es ovi ng r o r t n sx c l e ha i hidr n. II. Thepa tesdo notm uc di a e ont f cso t sc s butt y di a r ehea tl on ri h s gr e he a t f hi a e, he s g e riy t l gali plc tons oft f c s The de e nt a g t tt c ts d e t N a i i he e m i a i he a t . f nda s r ue ha he our houl s op tonw de fom de ng c r e be us N ai nwi wa a r t tt At r nyi ove ag ca e to de s wa e ha he woodsw e eca i f ee r rng or lven c l e a f ie t t kes t bl se t e tr c r e.Theco tfndst tbec us M r hidr n nd a ld o a uia e t ps o nsle ove ag ur i ha a e . At wood kne he w a rs ng nonco r ge, a i w s i ki ve a N tonwi e f l e up w ih t At oodsa d olow d t he w bout i eas ng cover ncr i age,and M r At ood t d Natonw i t i eased cover w as unneces y . w ol i de hat ncr age sar 3 be us ofhi r e o e ,e t ldo not1ei t sca e Ac or ngl t cour wil ca e s e- mpl ym nt soppe es i n hi s . c di y, he t l 4 e trad caao yj d me ti fv ro Nain d . n e e lrt r u g n n a o f to wie Esoppe i a e t bl docrne.Emp'sCo me cilUni I . v. e tAm . ns t l s n quia e ti r m r a on ns Co. Gr a I . Co.21 Va.560,562( , 4 1973) l or rfrt docrnet a y, . n de o he ti o ppl ( )Theemus ha be naf s rpr e ai orc eame ofmae ilfcs 1 r t ve e ale e esntton onc l nt tra a t; ( ) h rp e e tto mus h v b e ma ewihk o e g o t fcs ( )te 2 t e e r sn ain t a e e n d t n wld e f he a t; 3 h paryt whom i wa mademus ha bee i a oft tuh oft matr ( t o t s t ve n gnornt he r t he te ; 4) i m us have be n m a w ih t i e i t tt o he pary s d a tupon i; t t e de t he nt nton ha he t r t houl c t a ()t ot rpa t mus ha bee i e t ac uponi. nd 5 he he ry t ve n nduc d o t t Colma v. tonwi LieI . , 1Va 579,58 3( 971 ( i Trverv.Brso e n Nai de f ns Co.21 . 2-8 1 ) quotng a itl Paki l . 1 Va.595,604 ( 956 ) r nc,nc, 98 -05 1 ).Thepat i ngt docrneofetppe mus ry nvoki he ti so l t pr e c el m e by Ec e r pr ci e a une voc e de e. J m H a ove a h e nt s l a , e s nd qui al vi nc ' ol ' ncoc M ut Lie l . k . f ns Co. Va. tlBn 21 Va. ,33( 971.s eas Ha rsv.Crtronl .Co.222Va. v. Na' nk, 2 31 1 ) e lo ri , ie i ns , 496, 50 (981 ( s rbi t C l r prciea une voc l'tnda da a( a bur nof 2 1 ) de ci ng he t ea , e s nd qui a'sa r s ç vy de c he Pr of'. o ) 4Atti l Ngo madeoneot ra g ra, he r umen i s por ofc r ge.Hepoi st t pori oft home-a e t n up t ove a nt o he ton he cr e s me wher i sae ç l Ca eLi lt Cove a doe nota y i t numbe ofpe s r gul l caed ndor e nt e t tts t ome r abiiy l r ge s ppl f he r r ons e ary r f ,a defne i t gene a Dei to ofû i s,e ee t numberofperonsf whih t a oprae or s i d n he r l tniin Busnes ' xc ds he s or c he ppr it a dto a p e u wa c ag dwh nti e tnso o c v rg wa wrte ' ( mp. 1 6 ECFNo 11) d i n l rmim s h re e hs xe in f o ea e s i n. Co lEx. , , i t ' . -. Thear gumenti t s t wor twhent sexe i ofcovea waswrte ' s hi: he ds t hi tnson rge itn'modiy thenumbe ofpe s f t t r rons r ulry c edf . Tha i,t me urngpoitf t tnumberofchidr r gulry c edf r'i notatt tme eg a l ar or' ' t s he as i n or he t l en e a l ar o ' s he i o h i ie t vn rs t la ii bu a tet te#6/ywt wrte An ,h ag me t o tn e,nod r fte ncd n giig ie o ibly t th i h ,c' u i n. d te ru n c niu s i re t me /. t f t e l in t appl Nai deha t bur ofpr ng t r wer mor t n sxchidr r gulry c r or he xcuso o y, tonwi s he den ovi he e e e ha i l en e a l aed f whe t coveagewa wrte whi i hasnotdone. or n he r s itn, ch t (lsza c p iisaec nrcswh s lng a ei odn rl s lce b islesrte In l n e ol e r o ta t o e a u g s riai eetd y n t r ah r r c y r t by polcyhol r The cours a cor ngl havebe n c itnti c tui t han i des. t, c di y, e onsse n onsr ng he lngua of s polci ,whee t r i doubtast t r me ni i fvo of t t a ge uch i es r he e s o hei a ng, n a r ha i e p eai whi gr t cove a ,rt t n t twhih wihhol i. W hee t ntr r tton ch an s r ge aher ha ha c t ds t r wo c tucins ar e l posi e t tmos fvor bl t t i u ed wilbe a ed. onsr to e qualy sbl, ha t a a e o he ns r l dopt La nguage i a polcy pur tng t e ude ce t n e nt fom c age wil be n i pori o xcl rai ve s r over l co t e m os sr yagai tt i ur r nsru d t tongl ns he ns e . S asv Erels Ex h ng , 7 Va 5 8 5 2(0 9 (u t gS. a l ie& Maiels Co v Nuba m & Co, e l . i n . c a e 2 7 . 5 , 6 2 0 ) q oi tP u Fr n rn n . . . s u . I .2 Va 4 7 41 (9 4) nc, 27 . 0 , 1 1 8 ). He e t wor i t polc e l i aeungai ybutf rfo a g r , he ds n he iy xcuson r nl a r m mbiuous Thecou hasnodoubtast . rt o t mea ngoft e uson a t r or no g ou f co t i i ag ns N ai de. he ni ht xcl i nd heef e r nds or nsrung t ai t tonwi 4 l t co c ofi ur nc cli , hedocrne wila y s t tC n i ur nc n he nt xt ns a e a ms t ti l ppl uch ha l ns a e a co mpany c nnotr y on apr vii ofispolc t de e tc r i t f c sm a ng t a el o son t i y o f a ove age f he a t ki he pr s on ope a i w e e know n t t c pa whe i i s t polc ' Ruf i v. . Fie ovi i r tve r o he om ny n t s ued he i y. ' fn U S. r l .Co.208Va. 464 (968 .Ot rf t ma as oc so t docrne Fo i tnc ,i ns , 463, 1 ) he acs y lo cain he ti . r nsa e n Gr a Ame i a adrve led a et rc n, i r i bouthi drvi r o d on hi a o obiei ur ncea i a in, s i ng ec r s ut m l ns a pplc to a t i ur nc co pa l t lar d a nd he ns a e m ny aer e ne boutt 1ebutt no a ton t c nce t d i rs he i ook c i o a l he rve ' polc o ot r s notf hi oft pr e . Gr a Am .l .Co.21 Va. t561 i y r he wie iy m he oblm et ns , 4 a -62. W he n t drve ha a ac i ntand t co pa de e c r ge, heVigi aSupr m eCo tf t he i r d n c de he m ny ni d ove a t r ni e ur o md, ba e on t c pa s i ton i t f e oft know n f c s t tt c pa w a e t pped sd he om ny' nac i n he ac he a t , ha he om ny s s o fom de ngco rge.J a 56 Andi Stt Fam Fiel ur eCo. Ra s 1 Va. r nyi vea Z t 4. n ae r r ns anc v. ke , 88 239 ( 948)t Vigi aSupr meCou ta ide t lwhe a i ur move hi pe s l 1 ,he r ni e r pple soppe n n ns ed d s rona pr ry fom one l a i t a he a a ke hi i ur nc c ope t r oc ton o not r nd s d s ns a e ompany t upda ehi polc o t s iy a codi y,b t c c r ngl ut he ompa ne ecedt dos -.a 241.TheCou tnot t tund t e ny gl t o o.Jt t l r ed ha er hos f c st i ur e co pa towed t pl ntf t dut e t rt ca elt polc a r t n a t he ns anc m ny û he ai i f he y ihe o nc he i y nd e ur t une r d pr m i orha t nec s a y e he a ne e um ve he e s r ndor e e tpl e on t polc ta f r i t s m n ac d he i y r ns e r ng he c r get ane l a i ' I a 2 Faii t t t co t l t c pa wa eso d ove a o w oc ton.' d. t 48. lng ha , he ur hed, he om ny s t ppe fom d nyi c r r e ng ove age.I The ls o oft s c s si t tt t ti ofe t la ples d. e s n he e a e s ha he ç rne soppe p i doc onl whe t i urdca pr hej tfabl rle ont i urrsc y n he ns e n ove usii y eid he ns e ' onducta wa t nd s hus m ild by t compa sbe vi i o bei vi t polc wassili f c ' Ha s 222 Va a se he ny' ha or nt le ng he i y tl n or e.' ni , .t 502. The f t oft sc e be r ltl r e bl nc t t f c s oft e V igi a ca esfndi ac s hi as a ite es m a e o he a t hos r ni s i ng et soppel Unlke t e c es N a i nw i ha notdi c r d s e c ton orc r l s mw e . i hos as , to de d s ove e om ondii ictm t m erii cancelaton oft polcy,s GreatA m .l Co. 214 V a.at561 tng li he i ee ns. , -62,and i i ed no t gnor dieci nsfom t At r to r he woodsr r ng polc c nge ,s eRa ,1 Va. t241.TheAt ds ega di i y ha s e kes 88 a woo we ene t rt g a oft t u h oft m a t r' nordi t y r l on s e f l e r pr s n a i r ihe ç nor nt he r t i he te , ' d he e y om a s e e e t ton orc e me ofma e i lf t byN ai nwi Col n,211Va.a 58 onc al nt t ra acs to de. ema t 2-83. Rahe , r t rM . A t ood unde s o afe hi ve y fr tco w r t od t r s r is nver a i wih N a i i t the w a r s ng s ton t tonw de ha s i ki nonc r geba e on t numbe o c l r n i hi c r . By t e oft s c nd c ove a s d he r f hid e n s a e he nd he e o onve s to r ai n, Na i wi e ha e ane t s ii t r soft home- a ee r e e ,t ne d f asae ton d d xpli d he pectc e m he c r ndo s m nt he e or t t lce e, nd t a ia lt ofaco me cilpolc Atnopoitdi Na i der e e tt ti i ns a he va lbiiy m r a iy. n d tonwi epr s n ha t woul notr l on t polc e l i s d Na i d bec l u n t pr dec r ge. d ey he iy xcuson houl tonwie aled po o ovi ove a I t d,M r At nsea . wood hi s fl Na i det be ivet thewoul s be i c m el ed tonwi o le ha d oon n ompla e inc wih t polc Theans rr duc st t s Na i demadet At t he i y. we e e o hi: tonwi he woodsa r oft i polc wa e her iy lm ia i andt At i t tons he woodsma ce t tt y wo d o aewihi t e lm ia i . I de lar ha he ul per t t n hos i ttons t f l t te t ldoe notlei t sc ea t tNa i deowesno la lt co r ge f olows ha soppe s i n hi as nd ha tonwi i biiy ve a 5 or A nd N go' dea h unde t At y s t r he woods ho e n spolc ' m ow er i y. 5 Theco tnotst çbe is'unde ani urncepolc i abr de c ptt n iibiiy c r ge' ur e hati neft' r ns a iy s oa r once ha û a lt ove a ' l u d ra isrn epoiy.Bytesmetke , nisrrsd t t d fn i Vignai fsbo d rha l e n e n n ua c l c h a o n a nu e' uy o ee d n rii sç ra e t n t l i h oblgato t pa anda ie whe rt c ai alge fcsa cic tnce ,s ofwhi woul i i in o y, rs s neve he ompl nt le s a t nd r umsa s ome ch d, f pr ve f lwihi t rs c r d byt polc ' Va Elc.& Powe Co.v. t ookPr & Ca l .Co.252 o d, al t n he ik ove e he iy. . e ' r Norhbr op. s.ns , Va 2 5 2 8(9 6 (u tn Len rv S fc , 9Va 1 ,1 4(9 8) Co rsd tr n teso eo ted t t . 6 , 6 1 9 ) q oig re . ae o 21 . 01 0 1 7 ). u t eemie h c p fh uy o defndby a yi t t g co ne s' ul l ot rwor ,c t c e ppl ng he t ht r r'r e. n he ei ds ours ompar t f c ne soft compl ntand e he our or r he ai tefl c reso teisrnc p lc .Co ov. t n d Mu.nsCo, 9Va 6 5 6 3( 1 ) tlft h oz on r fh n ua e oiy p Nai wie tI . .27 . 7 , 8 20 0. çl i r o l a per ce ryta t is rrwo l n tb l bl u d risc nrc fra yj d me t a e u ntealg to ,t p as lal h the n u e ud o e i e n e t o ta to n u g n b sd po h l ains i a e t h sn d t e e t d fn .' 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Bas d o t cour ' fndi off c ,t de e nt ha notca r e t bur n ofpr e n he ts i ngs a t he f nda s ve r i d he de oof r quie t i e r d o nvoke t doc r ne ofesoppel A c or ngl t cour dec ar s t tt A t oods he t i t . c di y, he t l e ha he w ha no la lt c r ge w ih N a i w i e f rt a ci nt lde t ofAnd N go. ve i biiy ove a t ton d o he c de a a h y A ' s EN TER : c o r 1 2012. O t be , / UN I TED STATES D I STRI J D GE CT U 7