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Luch v. Scottsdale Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

May 18, 2018

NABIL HACH AL LUCH, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTTSDALE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          CECILIA M. ALTONAGA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendant, Scottsdale Insurance Company's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law (JNOV) or, in the Alternative, Motion to Amend Judgment (“Defendant's Motion”) [ECF No. 146], filed April 6, 2018; and Plaintiff, Nabil Hach Al Luch's Motion to Correct Jury Verdict and Judgment (“Plaintiff's Motion”) [ECF No. 152], filed April 25, 2018. Plaintiff filed a Response (“Plaintiff's Response”) [ECF No. 154] to Defendant's Motion, to which Defendant filed a Reply (“Defendant's Reply”) [ECF No. 156]. Defendant also filed a Response (“Defendant's Response”) [ECF No. 155] to Plaintiff's Motion, to which Plaintiff filed a Reply (“Plaintiff's Reply”) [ECF No. 157]. The Court has carefully considered the parties' submissions, the record, and applicable law.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This matter arises out of an insurance Policy (see Ex. J-1 [ECF No. 140-1] 2-38) issued by Defendant to Plaintiff, providing property damage coverage for Plaintiff's restaurant. The Court assumes the reader's knowledge of the intricate facts as discussed in prior Orders (see, e.g., February 16, 2018 Order [ECF No. 105]), but provides a brief background for the purpose of this Order.

         On the evening of Friday, April 15, 2016, water began pouring from the ceiling into Plaintiff's restaurant, damaging the building, its air conditioning unit, and Plaintiff's audio equipment, and forcing Plaintiff to discontinue the dinner service and close his restaurant for the night. (See February 16, 2018 Order 2 (citations omitted)).

         The Policy states Scottsdale will pay for “direct physical loss of or damage to [Plaintiff's property] . . . caused by or resulting from any Covered Cause of loss.” (Policy 8[1] (alterations added)). “Covered Causes of Loss” are defined as “direct physical loss unless the loss is excluded or limited” in the Policy. (Id. 26). In a section entitled “Limitations, ” the Policy states

1. [Scottsdale] will not pay for loss of or damage to property, as described and limited in this section. In addition, [Scottsdale] will not pay for any loss that is a consequence of loss or damage as described and limited in this section.
c. The interior of any building or structure, or to personal property in the building or structure, caused by or resulting from rain, snow, sleet, ice, sand or dust, whether driven by wind or not, unless:
(1) The building or structure first sustains damage by a Covered Cause of Loss to its roof or walls through which the rain, snow, sleet, ice, sand or dust enters . . . .

(Id. 31 (alterations added)).[2]

         In a section entitled “Exclusions, ” the Policy further states:

[Scottsdale] will not pay for loss or damage caused by or resulting from . . . . Collapse, including . . . (1) An abrupt falling down or caving in; (2) Loss of structural integrity . . . or . . . (3) Any cracking, bulging, sagging, bending, leaning, settling, shrinkage or expansion as such condition relates to (1) or (2) above.

(Id. 28-29 (alterations added)). The Policy then clarifies “[t]his exclusion . . . does not apply . . . [t]o collapse caused by . . . [w]eight of rain that collects on a roof.” (Id. 29 (alterations added)).

         Plaintiff submitted to Defendant a claim under the Policy for the damage caused by the water intrusion. (See February 16, 2018 Order 4). On September 14, 2016, Defendant informed Plaintiff it would not be providing coverage for Plaintiff's loss because Defendant had determined the causes of the loss to be interior rainwater damage due to wear and tear, deterioration, and cracking of the roof surface; all of which Defendant believed were excluded from coverage under the Policy. (See Id. 4-5).

         On March 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Complaint (see [ECF No. 1-3] 4-14) in state court asserting breach of contract for Defendant's failure to pay under the Policy.[3] Defendant removed the ...


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