In the case of Secura Supreme Insurance Company v. Johnson, the O’Briens had a secondary residence on their insurance policy in Valparaiso, Indiana. They intended to move their eventually and had personal liability coverage on the house. They rented it to Sandra O’ Brien’s sister, Alarid, and she kept two dogs at the house. One day while Johnson was walking her dogs in her neighbor’s yard, one of Alarid’s dogs crawled under the chain-link fence and attached Johnson and her dogs. They suffered serious injuries as a result.
Johnson would file a complaint against Alarid and the O’Briens because of the dogs bites and other injuries that had resulted. She also filed a separate complaint seeking declaratory judgment that Alarid was insured under the O’Briens’ homeowners policy insuring the house in Valparaiso. Both Secura Insurance and Johnson would file a motion for summary judgment. The trial court denied Secura’s and granted summary judgment in favor of Johnson. The Secura insurance policy did not define the term “household”, so the trial court used Indiana common law. Indiana common law had broad definitions of “resident” and “household”. The court decided that Alarid was part of the O’Brien household because the house of an extension of their primary residence and Alarid was a relative. Secura insurance had appealed. Secura tried to argue that Alarid was not an insured under the O’Brien insurance policy because she was not a resident of the O’Brien household.
The Court of Appeals of Indiana held that Indiana broad definition of the word “household” and Secura Insurance’s failure to define the term in the contract created conflicting reasonable inferences from the undisputed material facts. They decided that it would not be appropriate to award either party summary judgment. The Court reversed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment for Johnson and affirmed the trial court’s order denying summary judgment to Secura Insurance.
If you or a loved one have been affected by a injury, accident or death involving an animal, contact an experienced dog bite attorney at Hurst Limontes, LLC. We have decades of combined experience fighting for our clients in any number of personal injury claims. Call 317-636-0808 or email us for a FREE and confidential consultation.