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Miekka v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Maine

November 28, 2016

RICHARD G. MIEKKA, as Personal Representative for the Estate of James R. Miekka, Plaintiff



         In this action, Plaintiff Richard Miekka, as Personal Representative of the Estate of James Miekka, his son, seeks to recover proceeds under an automobile insurance policy issued by Defendant Allstate Insurance Company (the Policy). The matter is before the Court on the parties' motions for summary judgment.

         Following a review the summary judgment filings, and after consideration of the parties' arguments, I recommend the Court grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 29) and deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 33).

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff Richard Miekka is the personal representative of the estate of his late son, James R. Miekka, whose estate was probated in Citrus County, Florida. (Defendant's Statement of Material Facts (DSMF), ECF No. 30, ¶ 1; Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts (PSMF), ECF No. 34, ¶ 1.) James Miekka died as the result of an August 19, 2014, motor vehicle accident in Surry, Maine, which accident occurred when James was walking along the side of the road and was struck by a motor vehicle. (DSMF ¶ 2; PSMF ¶ 3.) The operator of the motor vehicle maintained liability insurance coverage in the amount of $50, 000, which amount was paid to James's estate. (DSMF ¶¶ 3, 4.) At the time of his death, James, who had been blind since age 27, was 54 years old. (DSMF ¶¶ 13, 14.)

         The Policy was issued by Defendant to James's parents, Richard Miekka (Plaintiff) and Jeanette Miekka, who reside in St. Petersburg, Florida. (DSMF ¶ 5.) The Policy includes uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in the amount of $100, 000. (Id. ¶ 7; Joint Stipulation ¶ 6, ECF No. 14.) To recover UM coverage under the Policy, a person must, inter alia, qualify as an “Insured person, ” which term is defined to include “any resident relative” of the policy holder. (DSMF ¶¶ 10 - 11.) The parties agree Plaintiff can recover under the Policy only if James qualified as a “resident relative” of his parents at the time of the motor vehicle accident.

         The Policy defines “resident” or “reside” as: “the physical presence in your [the policy holders'] household with the intention to continue living there. Your unmarried dependent children while temporarily away from home will be considered resident(s) if they intend to continue to live in your household.” (Id. ¶ 12.)

         James spent time every year, including overnight stays, at three different homes: (1) his parents' home in St. Petersburg, Florida; (2) a home James owned in Homosassa, Florida; and (3) a home James owned in Surry, Maine. Plaintiff attempts to establish as an undisputed fact that James was a resident of, or resided at, his parents' home in St. Petersburg.[1] Defendant attempts to establish as an undisputed fact that James was a resident of his homes in Homosassa and Surry, and was only an occasional guest at his parents' home in St. Petersburg.[2]

         Record offered by Plaintiff to establish James's residence in St. Petersburg

         When the Miekkas moved to their current home in St. Petersburg, in 1993, James moved with them, and had his own bedroom. The room remained his bedroom until his death. (PSMF ¶ 6.) James owned two homes of his own; one in Citrus County, Florida, and a summer home in Maine. (Id. ¶ 7.)

         According to James's father, James “spent his summers in a home that he owned in Maine [and] lived in Citrus County the rest of the year except when he was visiting our home.” (Id.; July 2016 R. Miekka Deposition at 10:17 - 25.) Jeanette Miekka, James's mother, reports that James stayed at the St. Petersburg house “maybe six or seven times a year;” sometimes he would stay “just a few days” and other times “it would be a week, maybe a little longer.” (Jeanette Miekka Deposition at 8:11 - 16, ECF No. 34-2.)

         James had a key to his parents' house. (PSMF ¶ 8.) In his bedroom at his parents' house, James kept clothing and certain other items related to his hobbies, which items included those used for hunting. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 47.) James also maintained a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a razor in a bathroom in his parents' home. (Id. ¶ 10.) In addition, in the home, James had personal financial records, work-related documents, breakfast cereal, and some bottles of alcohol. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 39, 41.)

         James's guide dog was familiar with the Miekka's home and had been trained to be familiar with the City of St. Petersburg. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 57.) James had other guide dogs in the past and they were also trained for his parents' house. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         James had a girlfriend, Susan Tate, who lived in Citrus County, where James owned a home; they had been in the relationship for 12 years. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 42.) Ms. Tate did not live with James, but she lived close to James and they visited about twice each week. (Id. ¶ 63.)

         James was self-employed as a financial advisor and wrote a monthly newsletter that he distributed to his clients. Richard Miekka served as James's assistant in the publication of the report. He typed the reports for James and composed parts of the reports with James's input. The report was written and produced at Richard and Jeannette Miekka's home in St. Petersburg. (Id. ¶ 16.)

         James filed U.S. tax returns with Richard's assistance. James used his parents' residence address on all tax returns. (Id. ¶ 17.) James regularly received most of his mail, including social security documents, IRS documents, bank and credit card statements, and multiple brokerage and stockholder statements, at his parents' home. (Id. ¶¶ 19 - 24, 44, 46.) James received bills at his parents' address regarding his own homes, including utility bills, television and electric bills and lawn mowing bills for the homes. (Id. ¶¶ 25, 44.)

         James's homeowner's policy for his Surry, Maine, property was sent to “James Miekka, care of Richard and Jeannette Miekka” at their St. Petersburg address. (Id. ¶ 26.) The Town of Surry sent the real-estate tax bill to James at his parents' home; James also received pharmacy statements at his parents' address. (Id. ΒΆΒΆ 27 - 28.) Recordings from the Pinellas County Library for the Blind, James's Florida hunting and fishing certificate, mailings from James's dentist in St. Petersburg, the death certificate from the ...

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