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Guideone National Insurance Co. v. Palm NMB, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

October 7, 2019

GUIDEONE NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Petitioner,
v.
PALM NMB, LLC, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER GRANTING RESPONDENTS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          RODNEY SMTTH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Petitioner's, GuideOne National Insurance Company, Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 84], Respondents' Response [DE 93], Petitioner's Reply [DE 95], Palm NMB, LLC and Privilege Apartments, LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 86], Petitioner's Response [DE 87], and Palm NMB, LLC and Privilege Apartments, LLC's Reply [DE 97]. This action arises from a fire in an apartment unit owned by Privilege Apartments, LLC (Privilege). As a result of that fire, a six-year old died. Subsequently, a lawsuit was brought against Privilege in state court for negligence. GuideOne National Insurance Company (GuideOne) issued a General Commercial Liability policy for the property. GuideOne's Amended Complaint seeks a declaratory judgment declaring that, under the terms of its policy, GuideOne is entitled to deny coverage to Palm NMB, LLC (Palm) and Privilege. GuideOne and Palm and Privilege have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, GuideOne's motion is denied and Palm and Privilege's motion is granted.

         I. UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS[1]

         Palm is the owner of an apartment complex located at 12501 NE 13th Avenue, North Miami, Florida 33161 (the Palm Apartments). (Georgescu Aff. [DE 85-2] ¶ 5.) Palm completed a Commercial Insurance Application for purposes of obtaining commercial general liability insurance for the Palm Apartments. (DE 1-2.) Palm executed a Supplemental Application on April 5, 2017. (DE 1-3.) The Supplemental Application asked if there were smoke detectors on the insured premises and the "yes" box was marked. (Id.) The Supplemental Application also asked whether the smoke detectors were hard wired or battery operated. (Id.) The word "battery" was typed in after the question. (Id.) At the end of the Supplemental Application is a section titled "Representation & Warranty Statement," which states:

I have read this Application and I represent that all of the foregoing statements are true and accurate and that these statements are offered as the basis upon which [insurance company] is considering issuance of an insurance policy. Any missing or erroneous information in this Application may jeopardize coverage in the event of a claim under any policy issued by [the insurance company].

(Id.)

         GuideOne issued Palm, as the named insured, a Commercial General Liability Insurance Policy that covered the period from March 16, 2017 to March 16, 2018 (the Policy). (DE 85-3.) The Representations and Warranties Endorsement of the Policy stated:

A. The Named Insured understands and agrees that the following representations and warranties are material and that the Company is relying on the truthfulness of these representation and warranties, which are made the basis of and a condition for the Company's acceptance of the risks covered by the insurance. The Named Insured further understands and agrees that if any of the following material representations and warranties are false, or if the Named Insured fails to compkly with any of the following representations and warranties at any time during the "Policy Period", [sic] the Named Insured shall be deemed to have breached this insurance policy. A breach of any of the following representations and warranties will result in this policy not applying to any "Claim" or "Suit" brought hereunder.
B. The Named Insured hereby represents and warrants* that the following are true and correct as of the inception date of the policy:
1. The information contained in the Application(s) is a just, full and true exposition of all the facts and circumstances with regard to the risk to be insured.
* * *
C. The Named Insured further presents and warrants that the following are true and correct as to the inception date of the policy and will remain so at all times during the "Policy Period":
The following apply to ALL ...

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