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Estate of Frye v. MMG Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Maine

March 22, 2018

ESTATE OF CARROLL G. FRYE et al.
v.
MMG INSURANCE COMPANY

          Argued: February 14, 2018

          Peter T. Marchesi, Esq. (orally), and Cassandra S. Shaffer, Esq., Wheeler & Arey, PA, Waterville, for appellant MMG Insurance Company.

          William L. Vickerson, Esq. (orally), and Robert M. Morris, Esq., Irwin Tardy & Morris, Portland, for appellees Estate of Carroll G. Frye et al.

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          GORMAN, J.

         [¶1] MMG Insurance Company appeals from a summary judgment in favor of Curtis W. Frye, Daryl K. Frye, and the Estate of Carroll G. Frye (collectively, the Estate) entered by the Superior Court (Penobscot County, Anderson, J.) on the Estate's action seeking enforcement of a property insurance contract for the loss of a dwelling by fire. MMG contends that the court erred by interpreting Carroll's insurance contract with MMG as providing coverage to the Estate, notwithstanding the Estate's lack of any insurable interest in the property after Carroll's death. We agree with MMG and vacate the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Viewed in the light most favorable to MMG, as the nonprevailing party, the summary judgment record establishes the following undisputed facts. See Estate of Mason v. Arnica Mut. Ins. Co., 2017 ME 58, ¶ 8, 158 A.3d 495.

         [¶3] In 1994, Carroll G. Frye and Thelma Frye executed a deed conveying their residence in Eddington to their sons, Curtis and Daryl, but reserving a life estate in the property for themselves. Thelma died in 2013. After Thelma's death, Carroll purchased homeowner's insurance from MMG[1] for the "residence premises" for the period from August 12, 2013, to August 12, 2014. The policy defined the "insured" as "[y]ou and residents of your household who are . . . [y]our relatives ... or ... [o]ther persons under the age of 21 and in the care of any person named above." Carroll was the only named insured on the policy and the only resident of the property; neither Curtis nor Daryl had lived on the property for decades, and neither was ever added to the policy as a named insured. The policy also contained a death clause:

         G. Death

         If any person named in the Declarations or the spouse, if a resident of the same household, dies, the following apply:

1. We insure the legal representative of the deceased but only with respect to the premises and property of the deceased covered under the policy at the time of death; and
2. "Insured" includes:
a. An "insured" who is a member of your household at the time of your death, but only while a resident of the "residence premises"; and
b. With respect to your property, the person having proper temporary custody of the property until appointment and qualification of a legal representative.

         [¶4] Carroll died on January 8, 2014. Six weeks later, on February 25, 2014, there was a fire on the property. Curtis and Daryl were appointed personal ...


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