The Mississippi Court of Appeals upheld a grant of summary judgment against an insured in a claim that arose out of the destruction of her beachfront home following the unmooring of a barge during a hurricane, for which the insurer denied coverage on the basis of a loss caused by water or which would not have occurred in the absence of water. Porter v. Grand Casino of Mississippi, Inc. – Biloxi, 2014 WL 1887378 (Miss. Ct. App. May 13, 2014).
The insured owned a home covered by an “all-risk” homeowner’s policy and was destroyed when a barge collided with it during a hurricane. The policy excluded loss caused by wind or water damage and “loss [that] would not have occurred in the absence of [an] excluded event….” The court found that the insurer met its burden to prove the exclusion applied because the damage from the barge could not have occurred without a storm surge. The court disagreed with the insured’s assertion that the barge itself, if proven to be negligently moored, was the cause of the loss, finding that a “cause” is defined as “the producer of an effect,” with an effect requiring force, which the barge could not have generated itself. Thus, the court found that the barge itself was not the “true cause,” but instead was a “concurrent cause.” The court ruled that the concurrent cause, coupled with the excluded storm surge, “makes the barge also an excluded cause of loss” under the policy.