Guy O. Kornblum and Mukesh Advani, of Guy O. Kornblum, A Professional Law Corporation, along with the legal aid of Sonoma County (Kendall Jarvis), represented ten displaced mobile homeowners who lost their homes as a result of the 2017 Sonoma County, California, wildfires, at the time the most destructive in California history.
Foremost (aka Farmers) insured the homes for “physical loss or damage” and provided for a stipulated sum for “total loss”.
The homes were not physically damaged but were rendered uninhabitable because they lost all utilities (water, electricity, etc.). As a result, the park where the homes had been for several years was shutdown. Foremost argued that the homes needed to be “physically damaged” even though the policy covered an “accidental, direct physical loss.”
On cross-motions for summary judgment, the Honorable Stuart Alsop of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that loss of utilities and services was enough to establish a basis for coverage. The court held the loss of the infrastructure resulted in a “distinct, demonstrable, physical alteration” to the insured homes, thus triggering coverage. The court entered judgment for our clients for the total maximum insured value of the homes plus an additional $50,000.
This was a major victory for coverage for the homeowners in a case of first impression in California, a fire ravaged state.
LCA Charter Senior Fellow Guy O. Kornblum is Principal of Guy O. Kornblum, A Professional Law Corporation, with offices in San Francisco and San Ramon, California. Mr. Kornblum has specialized as a trial and appellate lawyer for over 40 years. The firm specializes in a wide range of civil litigation, including serious injury and wrongful death, financial and physical elder abuse, and all aspects of insurance including “bad faith” claims. Mr. Kornblum himself has handled over 3500 litigated matters to conclusion and has several million dollar plus cases to his credit. He has represented hundreds of clients, small businesses, individuals, and large Fortune 500 corporations during his over 40 years of practice. He is highly regarded for his courtroom and appellate skills, and his representation of his clients in mediations, where he has a strong track record of successful settlements. Mr. Kornblum received his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1966 and his A.B. from Indiana University in 1961, after which he served as an officer in the U.S. Army before returning to law school.