Sales Of Fireworks Was ‘Business Pursuit’ And Excluded By Homeowners Policy

The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a trial court and held that sales of fireworks, although seasonal, fell within the business-pursuit exclusion of a homeowners policy.  The case is Michigan Miller’s Mutual Ins. Co. v. Awad, 2006 WL 1084351 (April 25, 2006). 

The case arose out of a fireworks injury.  Jason Awad, a college student, operated a fireworks stand from a tent for two weeks in 2004.  On July 4, Jason Jones, apparently a teenager, was pestering Awad for free fireworks.  Finally, Awad gave him some bottle rockets.  Strangely enough, after begging for free fireworks for some time, Jones then "threw a few dollars in Awad’s car window."  Jones apparently was quite a piece of work, because he then set off one of the bottle rockets from inside a vehicle and shot it out the window.  Somehow, it managed to hit someone in the eye who was getting out of the other side of the vehicle.  She sued Jones and Awad.

Awad’s homeowners insurance denied coverage under the business pursuits exclusion.  The trial court granted summary judgment against the insurer, saying two weeks of fireworks sales did not mean Awad was "customarily engaged" in the business.  In reversing the trial court and granting summary judgment to the insurer, the appeals court said the short duration of the fireworks business did not mean it wasn’t a valid business.  Because of the seasonal nature of the business, the court said, two weeks was consistent with being customarily engaged in it.

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