Gilbert (Plaintiff) owned a beach cottage which was insured by Rutgers Fire Insurance Company (Defendant). The cottage was totally destroyed in a fire and Defendant’s adjustor fixed the loss at $1,531. Thereafter, a writ of garnishment was issued against the Plaintiff to compel Defendant to pay Astoria Lumber Company the insurance proceeds due the Plaintiff for the loss.
Time limitations in which an action shall be brought are valid if the time is reasonable, and twelve months is reasonable.
No further actions were taken by either Plaintiff to settle the claims. Gilbert alleged that Defendant promised repeatedly to pay him after the garnishment proceedings were disposed of.
The insurance policy required that a sworn statement be filed with the company within 60 days of the fire, and that no action in court would be sustainable unless commenced within 12 months of the fire. The Plaintiff commenced this action over three years after the fire occurred. The jury rendered a verdict for the Plaintiff, and Defendant appealed.
Was the Plaintiff time-barred from recovery?
Yes. Reversed and the action dismissed.
· The Plaintiff conceded that at or about the time the year expired he knew and was advised by the company that it denied all liability and would contest his claim, yet he did not commence his action until at least two years and eight months after he received that information.
The twelve month time limit to commence an action under the policy was a valid and enforceable provision, and the Plaintiff was time-barred when he sought to commence a claim over three years after the fire occurred.