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Grey Oaks Country Club, Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

July 15, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court on the parties' Cross-Motions for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings (Docs. #39, 45) and Responses in Opposition. (Docs. ##48, 53.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies plaintiff's Motion and grants in part defendant's Motion.


         This case involves an insurance coverage dispute for damages to plaintiff's country club property in Naples, Florida from Hurricane Irma. Plaintiff Grey Oaks Country Club, Inc. (plaintiff or Grey Oaks) alleges that Zurich American Insurance Company (defendant or Zurich) breached its coverage obligations to Grey Oaks under a commercial insurance policy, which is attached to the Amended Complaint (Doc. #20-1, the “Policy”) (Count I), and acted in bad faith in contravention of Fla. Stat. § 624.155 (Count II).

         The Court dismissed Count II (Doc. #8); therefore, only the breach of contract count for defendant's failure to compensate Grey Oaks in the full amount of its damages and loss resulting from Hurricane Irma remains. Defendant filed an Answer (Doc. #23) on January 18, 2019.

         The parties cross move for partial judgment on the pleadings, asking the Court to favor their interpretation of the limits of coverage for “Golf Course Outdoor Grounds” available under the Policy, which turns on the determination of what the word “premises” means under the endorsement.


         “After the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when there are no material facts in dispute, and judgment may be rendered by considering the substance of the pleadings and any judicially noticed facts.” Hawthorne v. Mac Adjustment, Inc., 140 F.3d 1367, 1370 (11th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted). The Court accepts “the facts alleged in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Cannon v. City of W. Palm Beach, 250 F.3d 1299, 1301 (11th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted). “The complaint may not be dismissed ‘unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'” Slagle v. ITT Hartford, 102 F.3d 494, 497 (11th Cir. 1996) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). The pleadings considered by the court on a motion for judgment on the pleadings include the complaint, answer, and the exhibits thereto. Grossman v. Nationsbank, N.A., 225 F.3d 1228, 1231 (11th Cir. 2000). A motion for judgment on the pleadings can be granted only if the nonmoving party can prove no set of facts that would allow it to prevail. Palmer & Cay, Inc. v. Marsh & McLennan Cos., 404 F.3d 1297, 1303 (11th Cir. 2005).


         A. Background

         Grey Oaks purchased commercial insurance policy No. CPO 2881188-11, from Zurich with a Policy Period from October 1, 2016 through October 1, 2017. Grey Oaks is situated on 1, 233 acres of land that contains, among other things, two clubhouses and three championship golf courses, with its principal place of business at 2400 Grey Oaks Dr. North, Naples, Florida, 34105. (Doc. #20, ¶¶ 5, 11.) Grey Oaks purchased a “Golf Course Outdoor Grounds Coverage” endorsement in light of the substantial landscaping around Grey Oaks' golf grounds, which contains an eight-figure value in trees alone. (Id., ¶ 49.)

         Grey Oaks alleges that the physical building damage from Hurricane Irma was substantial, with damage to the landscaping, main clubhouse, the Estuary clubhouse, and the Estuary golf course. (Doc. #20, ¶¶ 12-17.)

         B. The Relevant Policy Language

         The only issue raised here is the number of “premises” subject to the Policy's $500, 000 per premises limit of liability in the Golf Course Outdoor Grounds Coverage insuring agreement. The parties disagree as to the meaning of the term “premises” in the golf course grounds coverage. The Court will first set out the relevant policy language.

         First, the named insured and mailing address on the Policy is listed as:

Grey Oaks Country Club, Inc.
(see named insured ENDT [endorsement])
2400 Grey Oaks Dr., Naples, Florida, 34105.

(Doc. #20-1, p. 8.) The Policy lists a Schedule of Forms and Endorsements that are made a part of the Policy. (Id., p. 10.)

         Under “Common Policy Forms and Endorsements”, a Schedule of Named Insureds and a Schedule of Locations are listed. (Id.) Under “Property Portfolio Protection Forms and Endorsements”, the Golf Course Outdoor Grounds Coverage is listed. (Id.) The Schedule of Named Insureds lists the following named insureds: Grey Oaks Country Club, Inc.; Grey Oaks Country Club, Ltd; GO Management Services, LLC; and GO Manager, LLC. (Id., p. 13.) On the next two pages, the Schedule of Locations are listed as follows:

         (Table Omitted)

         (Doc. #20-1, pp. 14-15.) A nineteenth location - fitness center at 2400 Grey Oaks Dr N. - was added to the Policy at Doc. #20-1, page 349.

         1. Commercial Property Definitions

         The Policy's Commercial Property Definitions section lists the ...

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