Friday, September 19, 2008

Massachusetts Superior Court explores definition of "resident of your household"

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports a new Superior Court case in which the court denied summary judgment to an insurer because of a factual dispute about whether the policyholder's brother was a household member. This post is based on the Lawyers Weekly summary as I have not been able to obtain a copy of the decision.

In Hingham Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Gee, a tree on the property of the policyholder, Michael Gee, fell on the policyholder's brother, Wan Xing. The policy excluded coverage for bodily injury to "if residents of your household, your relatives."

The insurer argued that Xing was a resident of Gee'shousehold, because the brothers and their families lived in the same apartment. The defendants argued that the brothers and their respective families maintained the apartment as two separate, financially independent households coexisting in a small space.

The court denied summary judgment, holding that there was a dispute of fact regarding Xing's financial dependence on his brother and the two families' day-to-day interactions with each other.