United States District Court, D. Minnesota
TODD BORCHARDT, MICHELE BORCHARDT, DANIELLE SHAVER, and DILLON BORCHARDT, Plaintiffs,
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendant.
F. Murn and Charles J. Lloyd, LIVGARD & LLOYD, PLLP, for
R. Krall, Leah A. Indrelie, and Lehoan T. Pham, HANSON LULIC
& KRALL, LLC, for defendant.
Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge
September 2014, a fire destroyed the home of plaintiffs Todd
and Michele Borchardt and their adult children, plaintiffs
Danielle Shaver and Dillon Borchardt (collectively,
“the Borchardts”). The Borchardts submitted a
claim to their homeowners insurer, defendant State Farm Fire
and Casualty Company (“State Farm”). State Farm
denied coverage after concluding that the Borchardts either
set the fire themselves or arranged for someone else to do
it. The Borchardts deny that they played any role in causing
the fire. That dispute will be settled at trial.
matter is before the Court on State Farm's motion for
partial summary judgment. State Farm asks this Court to rule
that Shaver is not entitled to coverage for the loss of her
personal property because she lied when being interviewed by
State Farm after the fire. For the reasons that follow, the
Court denies State Farm's motion.
destroyed the Borchardts' home late on the evening of
Friday, September 12, 2014. The Borchardts were deeply in
debt at the time; in fact, the electricity to their home had
been cut off several days earlier. Just hours before the fire
was started, the Borchardts had left their home to spend the
night at a nearby hotel. ECF No. 1 Ex. A ¶ 6; ECF No. 74
(“Murn Aff.”) Ex. 1 at 23:1034-42; Murn. Aff. Ex.
5 at 3. The Borchardt home was insured by State Farm; all
four members of the family were named insureds under the
September 16, 2014, the remains of the home were inspected by
law- enforcement officers and State Farm representatives.
Among those participating in the inspection were Doug Noah
(an expert hired by State Farm) and Jim Onken (an adjuster
employed by State Farm). Murn Aff. Ex. 5 at 2; Murn Aff. Ex.
4 at 98:13-99:4. Noah ultimately concluded that the fire had
been intentionally set in the basement of the home sometime
between 11:00 pm and midnight on September 12. Murn Aff. Ex.
5 at 5; Murn Aff. Ex. 4 at 107:9-14.
was interviewed by Onken on September 24, 2014. Murn Aff. Ex.
1; ECF No. 65-1 (“Pham Aff.”) Ex. 1. State Farm
alleges that, in the course of that interview, Shaver told
two lies. First, Shaver told Onken that she had not smoked in
the basement of the home on the day of the fire. Pham Aff.
Ex. 1 at 10:451-53, 11:458-60. Second, Shaver told Onken
that, the “[l]ast [she] remember[ed], ” she had
locked the basement door. Murn Aff. Ex. 1 at 13:561; see
also Id. at 37:1673-75 (“Q: Okay and the best of
your knowledge the last time that you can remember you locked
the door? R: Yes sir.”).
this lawsuit was filed, Shaver was deposed, and at her
deposition she admitted that she had, in fact, smoked in the
basement at about 2:00 pm on the day of the fire; she also
admitted that she had lied when she told Onken otherwise.
Pham Aff. Ex. 3 at 40:3-22. Moreover, Shaver arguably changed
her statement regarding the basement door, now testifying,
“I thought it was [locked], but I don't
know.” Id. at 22:9. In response to leading
questions from State Farm's counsel, Shaver admitted that
she had lied to Onken about whether the back door was locked,
even though her deposition testimony was arguably consistent
with her statement to Onken. Id. at 21:12-17.
later submitted a “correction sheet” with respect
to her interview with Onken. See Murn Aff. Ex. 2. On
that correction sheet, Shaver again stated that she had
smoked a cigarette in the basement on the day of the fire,
and Shaver explained that she had been scared to admit that
fact to Onken. Shaver also asserted that she thought she had
locked the basement door, but it was possible that she had
noted, Shaver was a named insured under the homeowners policy
that covered the Borchardt home. That policy contained a
“Concealment or Fraud” provision, which limited
coverage as follows:
respect to any occurrence or loss caused by fire, we do not
provide any ...