Living in the western United States comes with increased risk of wildfires. As communities
expand, housing encroaches upon our treasured forests, land that itself is increasingly susceptible
to wildfires. Sometimes, however, the damage caused by wildfires comes afterwards, when the rains
come, in this case, the predictable Arizona monsoons. Such was the case in the summer of 2011, when
the largest fire in Arizona to date, the Wallow Fire, wreaked havoc in the White Mountain communities
near Alpine, destroying homes, cabins and property. Shortly thereafter, the Arizona monsoons
contributed to the damage, creating massive mudslides that wiped out the Stankova’s treasured cabin.
After their homeowner’s insurer refused to pay, we went to work for the Stankovas. It wasn’t easy
but after years of litigation, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an important ruling favoring
Arizona homeowners. In Stankova v. Metropolitan Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 788 F.3d 1012 (2015),
the federal court of appeals held that insurers could not enforce mudslide exclusions in homeowner’s
policies where fire was a cause of the mudslides. Given that fire season is once again upon us, we are
proud to know that we helped garner some additional protection for current Arizona homeowners
who may be faced with a similar calamity.