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White v. Vermont Mutual Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

November 21, 2014

Susan R. White & a.
v.
Vermont Mutual Insurance Company & a

Argued June 18, 2014.

Strafford.

Nixon, Vogelman, Barry, Slawsky & Simoneau, P.A., of Manchester ( Leslie C. Nixon on the brief and orally), for the petitioners.

Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC, of Manchester ( Gary M. Burt on the brief and orally), for the respondent, Vermont Mutual Insurance Company.

Law Office of V. Richards Ward, Jr., PLLC, of Wolfeboro ( V. Richards Ward, Jr. on the memorandum of law), for the respondent, Charles Matthews.

LYNN, J., DALIANIS, C.J., and CONBOY and BASSETT, JJ., concurred.

OPINION

Page 1160

Lynn, J.

The petitioners, Susan and Peter White, appeal an order of the Superior Court ( Tucker, J.) denying their petition for a declaratory judgment that respondent Charles Matthews (Matthews) was covered under a homeowner's insurance policy issued to his mother by respondent Vermont Mutual Insurance Company (Vermont Mutual). We affirm.

The following facts were found by the trial court or are supported by the record. This case arose when a dog owned by Matthews caused an accident that injured Susan White on July 3, 2011. The incident occurred while Matthews was staying with friends at a home owned by his mother in Moultonborough. The Moultonborough home was covered by an insurance policy issued to Matthews's mother by Vermont Mutual. The policy defined [167 N.H. 155] an " insured" to include " residents of your household who are ... your relatives." Matthews's mother also owns a home in Naples, Florida, where she lives for approximately half of the year, and where Matthews usually visits only at Christmas. The petitioners and Matthews claim that the Florida residence is Matthews's mother's primary residence, but they do not claim that Matthews is a resident of the Florida home.

Matthews was born in Boston and lived in Massachusetts until he moved to Moultonborough when he was thirteen years old. As a teenager, he lived at the Moultonborough residence and attended Moultonborough Academy. In 2000, after graduating from Boston University, he began working and living in Massachusetts full-time. In 2005, he bought a building in Somerville, Massachusetts, which he converted into condominium units. He sold several units and retained three: one for

Page 1161

his own use, and two for rentals. Since 2005, Matthews has served as the head of the condominium association for that building.

Matthews has been unemployed since 2009 and receives financial assistance from his mother. He uses his Somerville address on his resume. Matthews testified that since graduating from college, if asked, he tells people that he lives in Massachusetts. The last time Matthews filed tax returns prior to the 2011 incident leading to this ...


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