State Farm secures summary dismissal of homeowners' damage claim as filed too late
Robert and Susan Thill attempted to sue their homeowners' insurance company, State Farm, after they suffered damage related to an ice dam on the roof. They initiated a claim, allowed it to sit idle for a few months, and then re-started it. State Farm issued a check for $156.18 for the "covered" portion of their claim and rejected several thousand dollars of additional alleged damages. The check came with a statement that the insurer "...will not give any further consideration to their claims." They retained counsel, but did not file suit for 13 months.
State Farm sought summary disposition, arguing that their lawsuit wasn't timely. The trial judge agreed and dismissed the case on summary judgment. The Appeals Court noted that the time limit in the State Farm policy was shorter than the Michigan statute applicable to homeowners' policies allows, and refused to apply it. Nevertheless, it did apply the one-year limitation contained in the latter statute, starting from the date of the final denial alleged in the letter that accompanied the token payment. On that basis, the Thills' damage claim was summarily dismissed.