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Bergquist v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

January 13, 2020

DONN BERGQUIST, Plaintiff,
v.
AUTO-OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
SUPERIOR WATER LIGHT AND POWER COMPANY, Third-Party Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Donn Bergquist brings this lawsuit against his insurer, defendant Auto-Owners Insurance Company, seeking coverage for water damage to his property. Dkt. 1. Auto-Owners denied coverage, and Bergquist has moved for partial summary judgment, asking the court to declare that his policy covers the damage under an endorsement for “Equipment Breakdown.” Dkt. 12. He also asks the court to compel an appraisal of his property to determine the scope of his loss. Dkt. 13. The court concludes that Bergquist is not entitled to coverage under the Equipment Breakdown endorsement, so the court will deny Bergquist's motion for partial summary judgment on the merits, and it will deny his request for an appraisal as moot.

         In its opposition to Bergquist's motion, Auto-Owners asks for summary judgment in its favor on the grounds that the policy provides no coverage for Bergquist's loss. Bergquist relied exclusively on the Equipment Breakdown endorsement, so it appears at this point that Auto-Owners may be right. The court will order Bergquist to identify any other provision of his policy that provides coverage for the damage to his property.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         The following facts are undisputed.[1]

         Auto-Owners insured a commercial property owned by Bergquist that sustained extensive water damage in 2018. Bergquist filed a claim with Auto-Owners, who hired an engineer to investigate the claim. The engineer determined that the damage was caused by a degraded underground pipe that ruptured. Dkt. 19-2. Auto-Owners denied Bergquist's claim in a letter, citing an exclusion for “damage caused by water under the ground surface that flows through floors, doors or windows.” Dkt. 30-1. Auto-Owners said that its letter was not “an exhaustive statement” of its position regarding coverage under the policy. Id.

         Bergquist contends that his loss is covered under the endorsement for “Equipment Breakdown.” Dkt. 22-3 at 50-56.[2] The endorsement says that Auto-Owners will pay for Equipment Breakdown subject to the policy limits. Section 1.a. Equipment Breakdown is defined in section 3.b. as follows:

"Equipment Breakdown" means:
(1) Physical loss or damage both originating within:
(a) Boilers, fired or unfired pressure vessels, vacuum vessels, and pressure piping, all normally subject to vacuum or internal pressure other than static pressure of contents, excluding:
1) waste disposal piping;
2) any piping forming part of a fire protective system;
3) furnaces; and
4) any water piping other than:
a) boiler feed water piping between the feed pump and the ...

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