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Trial judge directed judgment against insured; appeals court affirms

In Williams v. Jerviss-Fehtke Insurance Co., the plaintiff sued to secure insurance benefits for a gas explosion at a neighbor's house that damaged his property.  He initially sued his insurer, Auto Owners, which claimed that he wasn't eligible for this coverage and that it was excluded in his policy.  The trial judge granted Auto Owners summary disposition leaving Williams with only the argument that his agent had negligently arranged his coverage.  The judge then ruled that he could not prove negligence by the agent and Williams appealed.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial judge had not erred in holding against Williams because "regardless of whether [the agent] was negligent in procuring an insurance policy for plaintiff, there was no evidence that any negligence on [the agent's] part resulted in damages..."  The Court based this holding on a claim by the agent that no companies would offer the coverage that Williams sought.  It also rejected Williams' attempt to introduce evidence that other property owners did, in fact, secure such coverage.  It also rejected Williams' argument that he should be allowed to admit correspondence documenting the agent's failure to secure mortgage coverage on the property.

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