No Coverage For Dog Fall While Watching Prez Plane

I suppose most of us have lived our entire lives without seeing Air Force One fly overhead, and likely that was also true for Sharon Bergstrom on July 13, 2004.  She was living in an assisted care facility in the Duluth-Superior area run by Charles Baker, apparently in his own house.  President Bush made a campaign stop that day in Duluth, and as Bergstrom stared up at the plane from the backyard of the Baker house, Baker’s dog wrapped its leash around her legs and she tripped and fell. 

I have no idea how serious her injuries were — considering she was in a place that provided 24 hour care, she was at least somewhat incapacitated, and an ordinary fall could turn out badly.  In any event, she sued Baker, seeking to collect under his homeowners policy.  That insurance fight is what Bergstrom v. Baker and Prudential Property & Casualty Insurance Co. (Wisc.App. October 3, 2006) is about.  Here is a pdf of the case.

If you’ve dealt much with homeowners policies, you know what the court said: no coverage because of the business pursuits exclusion.  Evidently Baker had no commercial insurance, and a homeowners policy won’t provide it.  Bergstrom tried a creative argument: she was actually a "roommate or boarder," which would have been OK for coverage.  However, it turned out that two-thirds of the money she paid per month was not for room and board, but for assisted care.  That made her look like a patient, not a boarder, and the court granted summary judgment to the insurer.

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