United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
C. BUCKLEW URN RED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on two motions: (1)
Amerisure's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 28),
which Defendant Dominguez opposes (Doc. No. 39); and (2)
Defendant Dominguez's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. No. 32), which Amerisure opposes
(Doc. No. 37). As explained below, the Court grants Defendant
Dominguez's motion and denies Amerisure's motion.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court must draw all inferences from
the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant
and resolve all reasonable doubts in that party's favor.
See Porter v. Ray, 461 F.3d 1315, 1320 (11th Cir.
2006)(citation omitted). The moving party bears the initial
burden of showing the Court, by reference to materials on
file, that there are no genuine issues of material fact that
should be decided at trial. See id. (citation
omitted). When a moving party has discharged its burden, the
non-moving party must then go beyond the pleadings, and by
its own affidavits, or by depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific
facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. See
id. (citation omitted).
23, 2017, Defendant Belkys Garcia Dominguez
(“Defendant”) was working for Commercial Pool
Cleaners (“CPC”) and driving its 2005 Ford Ranger
with CPC's permission.On that day, Defendant was involved in a
car accident with Steven Shaffer, and Defendant later
demanded that Amerisure tender its available uninsured
motorists (“UM”) limits to her.
issued commercial automobile policies to CPC that covered the
2005 Ford Ranger from October 2014 through October 2018. The
parties do not dispute that Amerisure's insurance policy
covered the car accident at issue. Instead, they dispute the
amount of UM coverage available under the policy.
president, Rick Rinberger, filled out the application for
insurance coverage. The application required Rinberger to
make a decision regarding the amount of UM coverage he wanted
for CPC. The application stated the following:
Florida law requires that automobile liability policies
include Uninsured Motorists Coverage at limits equal to the
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage (split limits) or Combined
Single Limit for Liability Coverage in your policy, unless
you select a lower limit offered by the company or reject
Uninsured Motorists Coverage entirely.
Please indicate by initialing below whether you entirely
reject Uninsured Motorists Coverage, whether you select this
coverage at limits lower than the Bodily Injury Liability
Limits or Combined Single Limit for Liability Coverage or
equal to your Bodily Injury Liability Limits or Combined
Single Limit for Liability Coverage of your policy
(Doc. No. 1-3, p. 2). Rinberger placed his initials in two
separate, conflicting places and then signed the next page:
(Doc. No. 1-3, p. 3-4).
that Rinberger initialed the application indicated that he
was selecting two conflicting amounts of UM coverage. By
initialing the second line on the top left part of the page,
he selected UM coverage in an amount equal to his bodily
injury limits (which was $1 million). However, by initialing
the second line on the right side of the page, he partially
selected a lower UM limit of $50, 000.
issued the commercial automobile policies to CPC with a
stated $50, 000 UM limit, and CPC paid insurance premiums
based on the $50, 000 UM limit. The parties do not dispute
that Rinberger wanted the lower $50, 000 UM
limit. (Doc. No. 39, p. 4, n.1). However, the
parties dispute the ramifications of Rinberger filling out
the insurance application in a conflicting manner.
the car accident, Defendant asked Amerisure to disclose the
available insurance coverage under CPC's policy.
Amerisure initially responded on July 17, 2017 that there was
$1 million in UM coverage. (Doc. No. 27-4). However, on
November 9, 2018, Amerisure changed its response, stating
that there was only $50, 000 in UM coverage. (Doc. No. 27-6).
did not accept Amerisure's contention that there was only
$50, 000 in UM coverage. Therefore, Amerisure filed the
instant lawsuit for a declaratory judgment regarding the
amount of UM coverage available under CPC's policy.
Motions for Summary Judgment
and Defendant filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the
issue of the amount of UM coverage available for the car
accident. As explained below, the Court agrees with Defendant
that there is $1 million in UM coverage, because Rinberger
failed to effectively select a lower limit in writing, as
required by Florida Statute § 627.727(1).
627.727 controls this issue and provides the following.
First, § 627.727(2) provides, in relevant part, that
“[t]he limits of uninsured motorist coverage shall be
not less than the limits of bodily injury liability insurance
purchased by the named insured, or such lower limit . . . as
may be selected by the named insured.” Furthermore, the
statute provides the following:
No motor vehicle liability insurance policy which provides
bodily injury liability coverage shall be delivered or issued
for delivery in this state . . . unless uninsured motor
vehicle coverage is provided therein or supplemental thereto
. . . . However, the coverage required under this section is
not applicable when, or to the extent that, an insured named
in the policy makes a written
rejection of the coverage on behalf of all
insureds under the policy. . . . The rejection or selection
of lower limits shall be made on a form approved
by the [Office of Insurance Regulation]. . . .
If this form is signed by a named ...