The Fongs returned from vacation to discover that their house had been damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake. Problem: the house was not in great shape in the first place; in fact it seemed that many of the same cracks had existed before the quake, though they hadn't seemed as bad. So the Fongs thought about it for months until finally Mr. Fong got around to making a claim for the damage. The insurance company agreed that the policy covered earthquake damage, but they said Mr. Fong had missed the reporting deadline, and besides, the damage looked old to them. The Fongs hired Meehan as expert to help them in an arbitration that the judge required them to go through with their insurer.
Should the Gibault's homeowner insurance, which excludes earthquake damage, pay for the damage?
The April 24, 1985 Morgan Hill earthquake (ML = 6.2, MMI = VIII) caused
severe damage to the Gibault home. The Gibaults had State Farm Insurance
with a policy which, due to a policy change which was supposedly communicated
to the Gibault's by registered mail, excluded any damage from earthquake,
even where builders' negligence existed as a "concurrent" cause.
State Farm determined that the earthquake was the predominating cause of
the damage, and therefore refused to pay. The Gibaults sued for coverage,
claiming that the predominating cause of the damage was negligent construction
of their home, which should be covered (They said they hadn't been properly
notified of the policy change) Meehan, witness for State Farm, took
the position that the home would have been damaged even if builders' negligence
wasn't present, because of the very high local peak acceleration. Should
the insurance company pay up?
Should the Cabigas' earthquake insurance pay for the damage to their house?
After a moderate earthquake on March 23, and an intense rainstorm on
March 24 and 25, the hillside behind the Cabigas' house failed causing
extensive damage to the property. The Cabigases have earthquake insurance.
The insurance company is claiming that the rainfall caused the damage and
not the earthquake, therefore they are not liable for the loss. The Cabigases
are suing the insurance company for the damage to their house. Their expert,
Meehan, says that the smallish earthquake which preceded the rain storm
loosened the slope and predisposed it to failure when it rained. Should
the insurer pay?