E.M.M.I. Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Company

84 P.3d 385 (2004)

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E.M.M.I. Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Company

California Supreme Court
84 P.3d 385 (2004)

Facts

Jewelry salesman Brian Callahan was driving his car with jewelry that belonged to jewelry manufacturer E.M.M.I. Inc. (plaintiff) in the car’s trunk. Callahan’s car was stolen with the jewelry inside while Callahan was crouched behind the car inspecting his exhaust pipes. Police later recovered Callahan’s car, but the jewelry was gone. E.M.M.I. submitted a claim for the stolen jewelry under its jeweler’s block insurance policy issued by Zurich American Insurance Company (defendant). E.M.M.I.’s policy broadly covered physical loss to the jewelry but specified some coverage exclusions, including that Zurich would not cover jewelry stolen from a vehicle unless the insured was “actually in or upon such vehicle at the time of the theft.” Zurich denied E.M.M.I.’s claim based on this exclusion, asserting that because E.M.M.I. could not prove that Callahan was physically touching his car when it was stolen, Callahan was not “in or upon” the car. E.M.M.I. sued Zurich in California state court. The trial court granted summary judgment for Zurich, finding that coverage was plainly excluded because Callahan was crouched behind the car instead of “in or upon” it when the car was stolen. The California Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that although Callahan was close to his car, he was not “in or upon” it. The California Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moreno, J.)

Dissent (Chin, J.)

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