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Neill v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company

Court of Appeals of Arkansas
81 Ark. App. 67 (Ark. Ct. App. 2003)


Facts

On November 18, 1993, Lamar Neill (plaintiff) met with an agent of Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Nationwide) (defendant) to obtain insurance for a mobile home. The Nationwide agent asked Neill questions regarding issues such as past lawsuits and previous bankruptcies. The agent entered Neill’s answers into a document, but allegedly did not ask Neill if he had ever suffered previous losses due to fire. The agent printed the completed application. Neill signed the completed application without reading it. The application contained a clause explicitly stating that the facts in the application were true and that Neill was requesting that Nationwide issue a policy in reliance on these facts. Under a section titled “Past Losses,” the word “None” was entered. On April 16, 1997, Neill’s insured mobile home was damaged in a fire. Neill filed a claim for benefits under the insurance policy. Nationwide conducted an investigation and discovered that Neill had suffered three previous fire losses. Nationwide denied Neill’s claim based on his failure to disclose those previous losses. Nationwide claimed that the omissions constituted a material misrepresentation on Neill’s application that voided the policy. Neill filed a complaint for a declaratory judgment against Nationwide. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Nationwide. Neill appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Roaf, J.)

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