United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 4, 2014, Plaintiff William Jackson returned home from
a month-long trip to discover that a malfunctioning toilet
had caused thousands of gallons of water to flow throughout
his house, causing significant water and mold damage, which
to this day has not been fully remediated. After submitting a
claim to his insurance company, Defendant The Standard Fire
Insurance Company ("Travelers",, a dispute ensued
over whether and to what extent the water and mold damage
should be covered by the Policy. Unable to reach an agreement
on the proper interpretation of the Policy's mold
limitation and subsequent coverage of Jackson's damages,
Jackson filed suit against Travelers.
pending is Travelers' Motion for Summary Judgment. A
hearing was held on this Motion on June 25, 2019. For the
reasons set forth below, Travelers' Motion for Summary
Judgment is DENIED.
October 4, 2014, Jackson had a homeowner's insurance
policy ("the Policy") from Travelers to provide
insurance on his home located in Fort Washington, Maryland
("the House"). The Policy, which had been renewed
effective January 12, 2014, generally covered "direct
physical loss to the property." Joint Record
("J.R.") 30. Specifically, it provided $378, 000 of
coverage for the House, $264, 600 of coverage for
Jackson's personal property, and $113, 400 of coverage
for loss of use of the House. Travelers acknowledges that
water damage to the House from a toilet malfunction is a
covered loss under the Policy, subject to various exclusions
exclusions, the Policy contains a list of "excluded
perils" which are subject to the Policy's
Anti-Concurrent Causation ("ACC") Clause, which
We do not cover any direct or indirect loss or damage caused
by, resulting from, contributing to or aggravated by any of
these excluded perils. Loss from any of these perils is
excluded regardless of any other cause of event contributing
concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.
13. This provision applies whether or not the loss event:
"(1) Results in widespread damage; (2) Affects a
substantial area; or (3) Occurs gradually or suddenly."
not listed among the original list of exclusions subject to
the ACC Clause.
the Policy contains an endorsement relating to mold
("the Mold Endorsement") that adds an exclusion
"Fungi," Other Microbes or Rot, meaning any loss or
cost resulting from, arising out of, caused by, consisting
of, or related to, "fungi," other microbes or rot.
Such loss is excluded regardless of any other cause or event
contributing concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.
47. The Mold Endorsement also provides a form of
"Additional Coverage" for "Limited
'Fungi,' Other Microbes or Rot Remediation" (the
"Mold Limitation".. The Mold Limitation provides up
to $5, 000 of coverage for mold remediation as follows:
loss caused by a Peril Insured Against under Section I
results in "fungi", other microbes or rot,
[Travelers] will pay for:
(1) Remediation of the "fungi," other microbes or
rot. This includes payment for the reasonable and necessary
(a) Remove the "fungi," other microbes or rot from
covered property or to repair, restore or replace that
(b) Tear out and replace any part of the building as needed
to gain access to the "fungi," other microbes or
(2) Any reasonable and necessary increase in living expense
you incur so that your household can maintain its normal
standard of living or loss of fair rental value if the
"fungi," other microbes or rot makes the
"residence premises" not fit to live in. We do not
cover loss or expense due to cancellation of a lease
(3) Any reasonable and necessary testing or monitoring of air
or property to confirm the absence, presence or level of the
"fungi," other microbes or rot, whether performed
prior to, during or after removal, repair, restoration or
The Insurance Claim
October 5, 2014, after being away on business for
approximately one month, Jackson returned to the House and
discovered significant damage. While Jackson was away,
thousands of gallons of water flowed through the House after
a toilet on the main level malfunctioned. As Jackson walked
through the House that day, hearing the water under his feet
with each step, he noted that the walls were sweaty because
of humidity from the flood, floors were buckled, the basement
ceiling had collapsed, and the basement was extremely
saturated. Mold was present in various places on various
items in the basement and throughout the House.
tried to dry the interior of the House and his personal
property using fans and towels. Jackson reported the damage
to his insurer, Travelers, which conducted an initial site
visit and inspection the next morning, October 6, 2014.
During this visit, Travelers advised Jackson of the $5, 000
Mold Limitation in the Policy.
Travelers provided Jackson with a list of cleaning companies
to perform initial water and mold mitigation, Jackson advised
Travelers that he wanted a hygienist to inspect the property.
On October 16, 2014, Travelers then told Jackson to hold off
on hiring a mitigation company and instead provided him a
list of two industrial hygienists that could provide a
protocol for mold remediation. On October 22, 2014, during
another site inspection, Travelers issued a $3, 000 advance
on the Mold Limitation to cover the mold testing and
remediation, $750 for temporary housing, and $1, 500 as a
security deposit advance.
opted to hire a company not identified on Travelers'
list, EFI Global, Inc., as he was entitled to do, which then
conducted a "limited moisture investigation" on
October 20, 2014. J.R. 281. The EFI report described visible
water and mold damage on the main level and basement level.
Specifically, most damage on the main level was in the master
bedroom, where the defective toilet was located, including
visible mold on lower portions of furniture and footwear in
the master bedroom. The majority of the damage was in the
basement, where the ceiling and some walls had collapsed and
mold was visible "on just about every piece of
furniture, fabric, and contents." J.R. 282.
Travelers had told Jackson that a mold test was needed, EFI
only took moisture readings, leading Travelers to notify
Jackson that it would hire a hygienist to more fully inspect
the home. Travelers hired Environmental Solutions, Inc.
("ESI"), which conducted its inspection of the
House on November 12, 2014 and provided a report with the
results of mold tests. ESI reached a similar conclusion to
that of EFI and found that most of the basement was affected
by water damage and subsequent fungal growth.
December 3, 2014, Travelers notified Jackson that Rolyn
Estimates ("Rolyn") would be contacting him to
schedule times to inspect the home to prepare certain cost
estimates. Travelers tasked Rolyn with preparing three
estimates-one for the cost of emergency water mitigation
services, one for the cost of damages caused by water, and
one for the cost of damages caused by mold. Eric Huzzy from
Rolyn contacted Jackson and visited the House on December 8,
2014 to conduct an inspection and prepare the estimates.
December 19, 2014, Travelers informed Jackson that South
River Restoration ("SRR") would be scheduling a
visit. Travelers had asked SRR to prepare estimates on the
costs to pack, store, and return the salvageable contents of
the House, to clean the House, and to replace damaged
contents. When SRR personnel attempted to conduct its
inspection on December 29, 2014, Jackson refused to allow
them to enter. Travelers told Jackson that he had a duty
under the Policy to allow Travelers and its contractors to
view the premises and continued to request permission to
enter. While he was refusing entry to SRR, Jackson retained a
different company, 2J Enterprises, LLC, to compile an
inventory of the contents of the ...