348 F.3d 1298 (11th Cir. 2003), 02-16511, Cast Steel Products, Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co.

Docket Nº02-16511
Citation348 F.3d 1298
Party NameCast Steel Products, Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co.
Case DateOctober 28, 2003
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Page 1298

348 F.3d 1298 (11th Cir. 2003)

CAST STEEL PRODUCTS, INC., Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

ADMIRAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 02-16511.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

October 28, 2003

Page 1299

Thomas Corley Smith, Callaway, Braun, Riddle & Hughes, P.C., F. Bradley Hassell, Eubank, Hassell & Associates, PA, Daytona Beach, FL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Mitchel Chusid, Ritter & Chusid, Patrick Patrissi, English, McCaughan & O'Bryan, P.A., Boca Raton, FL, for Defendant-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Before BLACK and FAY, Circuit Judges, and JORDAN [*], District Judge.

FAY, Circuit Judge:

Cast Steel Products, Inc. ("Cast Steel") appeals an adverse summary judgment granted to Admiral Insurance Company ("Admiral") on Cast Steel's action for a declaration that either (or both) of its 1999 and 2000 "claims-made" professional liability policies with Admiral covered a defective product claim that accrued at the conclusion of the 1999 policy period but was not reported until the start of the 2000 policy period. The district court found that neither policy provided coverage for the claim because the claim had not both accrued and been reported to Admiral during the same policy period. Cast Steel argues on appeal that the 1999 Professional Liability Policy ("99 Policy") is ambiguous with respect to coverage of the 1999 claim upon renewal of the 99 Policy in 2000. Specifically, Cast Steel contends that because the 99 Policy automatically extends the claims reporting period upon cancellation or non-renewal of the policy, but is silent as to whether renewal of the policy would provide the same reporting extension, an unresolved ambiguity exists in the policy that precluded the district court from granting summary judgment.

Page 1300

We agree that the 99 Policy is ambiguous. We further find that, because under Florida law an ambiguity in an insurance policy must be construed in favor of the insured so as not to deny coverage, summary judgment should have been granted to Cast Steel. Swire Pacific Holdings, Inc. v. Zurich Ins., Co., 845 So.2d 161, 165 (Fla.2003). Accordingly, we REVERSE the district court's order granting summary judgment in Admiral's favor, and REMAND to the district court with instruction to enter summary judgment in Cast Steel's favor as to the 99 Policy.

I.

Cast Steel is a Florida corporation in the business of supplying castings and components to the mining and waste energy industries. In early 1999, it purchased professional liability insurance from Admiral, a surplus lines insurer headquartered in Delaware, through Admiral's designated surplus lines broker in the state of Florida, Gary Markel. 1 The 99 Policy had a retroactive effective date of January 6, 1999 and an expiration date of January 6, 2000, at 12:01 a.m. Cast Steel subsequently renewed the 99 Policy, and the renewal policy had an effective date of January 6, 2000, and expiration date of January 6, 2001 ("00 Policy"). 2 Both policies, by their terms, were "claims-made" policies, which meant that each policy purported to cover only those claims which had both accrued and were reported to Admiral during the policy period indicated on the face of the policy.

Sometime in early 1999, Cast Steel was awarded a contract to provide 130 pallet cars to Hibbing Taconite ("Hibbing"), an iron ore mine located in Hibbing, Minnesota, for the purchase price of $5.5 million. Cast Steel delivered the cars in June 1999. Soon thereafter, in August 1999, Hibbing reported significant problems with the wheels of the cars, which, after some investigation, Cast Steel determined to be caused by defective design of the bearings. On October 21, 1999, Hibbing prepared an incident report and formally reported its claim to Cast Steel. Cast Steel immediately advised Ayers/Sierra of the Hibbing claim and asked that the proper claim paperwork be prepared. In an unfortunate twist of fate, Ayers/Sierra failed to submit the Hibbing claim to Admiral until January 6, 2000--just hours after the 99 Policy had expired.

On February 10, 2000, Admiral sent Cast Steel a reservation of rights letter and began investigating the Hibbing claim. 3 After four months of investigation by an independent claims adjuster, Admiral sent Cast Steel a letter denying coverage under all policies.

Page 1301

This suit followed on July 25, 2001. Cast Steel originally brought the action in Florida state court, seeking, inter alia, a declaration that at least one of the various policies obligated Admiral to cover the Hibbing claim. Admiral removed the action to the Middle District of Florida on diversity grounds and, in July 2002, Cast Steel moved for summary judgment on the 99 Policy. Admiral's own summary judgment motion followed. On October 24, 2002, the district court entertained oral argument and in November granted summary judgment to Admiral, finding that none of the policies provided coverage to Cast Steel.

Specifically, the district court determined that Cast Steel failed to comply with the 99 Policy's notice requirement when it failed to report the Hibbing claim during the 99 Policy period. As to the 00 Policy, the court held that because the Hibbing claim accrued during 1999, and Cast Steel was undisputedly aware of the claim when it renewed the policy, the plain language of the 00 Policy precluded coverage. 4 With respect to Cast Steel's argument that Admiral was on notice of its claim because Admiral (or Admiral's surplus lines broker Markel) cloaked Ayers/Sierra with apparent authority to receive claims on Admiral's behalf, the district court found that Cast Steel failed to show that Admiral ever represented to Cast Steel that Ayers/Sierra was its agent in this regard and, moreover, the record showed that Ayers/Sierra itself adamantly denied being Admiral's agent or ever making a representation to Cast Steel that it was Admiral's agent.

Cast Steel asserts on appeal that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Admiral because issues of fact remained as to whether Ayers/Sierra was cloaked with apparent authority to receive claims on behalf of Admiral. Cast Steel also argues that an unresolved ambiguity as to whether renewal of the 99 Policy extended the period in which it could report claims precluded summary judgment on Admiral's behalf.

II.

We review a district court's granting of a motion for summary judgment de novo, applying the same legal standards used by the district court. Hilburn v. Murata Elecs. N. Am., Inc., 181 F.3d 1220, 1225 (11th Cir.1999). We "view the evidence and all factual inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Burton v. City of Belle Glade, 178 F.3d 1175, 1187 (11th Cir.1999) (quoting Clemons v. Dougherty County, 684 F.2d 1365, 1368 (11th Cir.1982)). Denial of summary judgment is also reviewed de novo. Weeks v. Harden Mfg. Corp., 291 F.3d 1307, 1311 (11th Cir.2002).

III.

The district court's decision presents a somewhat alarming scenario. Faced with two consecutive insurance policies that created apparently seamless coverage over two policy periods, the court nevertheless found that a claim accruing within the two periods was somehow not covered by either policy. On the face of the 99 and 00 Policies, there appears to be no gap in coverage. Indeed, the 99 Policy was effective until 12:01 a.m. on January 6, 2000, and the 00 Policy was retroactively effective beginning on January 6, 2000 (presumably at 12:01 a.m.). At a glance, one would be hard pressed to imagine how a claim accruing in the middle of the two policy periods would not be covered by one

Page 1302

of the policies. But because a claims-made policy is designed to cover only claims both accruing and reported during the specified policy period, the district court held that a claim which accrued late in the first policy period but was not reported until early in the second was covered by neither policy.

Cast Steel challenges the district court's conclusion, and argues that because the 99 Policy automatically extends (by thirty days) the period...

To continue reading

Request your trial
42 practice notes
  • 410 F.Supp.2d 1137 (N.D.Fla. 2005), 5 05cv135, Colony Ins. Co. v. Barnes
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Northern District of Florida
    • December 8, 2005
    ...must be resolved in favor of the insured requiring the insurer to defend."); see also Cast Steel Prods., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 348 F.3d 1298, 1300 (11th Cir.2003) ("under Florida law an ambiguity in an insurance policy must be construed in favor of the insured so as not to den......
  • Colony Ins. Co. v. Barnes, 120805 FLNDC, 5:05cv135-RH/WCS
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Northern District of Florida
    • December 8, 2005
    ...must be resolved in favor of the insured requiring the insurer to defend."); see also Cast Steel Prods., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 348 F.3d 1298, 1300 (11th Cir. 2003) ("under Florida law an ambiguity in an insurance policy must be construed in favor of the insured so as not to de......
  • Colony Ins. Co. v. Barnes, 120805 FLNDC, 5:05cv135-RH/WCS
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Northern District of Florida
    • December 8, 2005
    ...must be resolved in favor of the insured requiring the insurer to defend."); see also Cast Steel Prods., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 348 F.3d 1298, 1300 (11th Cir. 2003) ("under Florida law an ambiguity in an insurance policy must be construed in favor of the insured so as not to de......
  • Jackson Farming Company of Autryville v. FCCI Services, Inc., 082420 NCEDC, 7:19-CV-214-D
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 4th Circuit Eastern District of North Carolina
    • August 24, 2020
    ...2005 WL 1838433, at *9-10 (N.D. HI. July 29, 2005) (unpublished) (same); but see Cast Steel Prods., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 348 F.3d 1298, 1303-04 (11th Cir. 2003) (predicting Florida law and relying upon an Ohio Court of Appeals case to hold that it would be &quo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
40 cases
  • 410 F.Supp.2d 1137 (N.D.Fla. 2005), 5 05cv135, Colony Ins. Co. v. Barnes
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Northern District of Florida
    • December 8, 2005
    ...must be resolved in favor of the insured requiring the insurer to defend."); see also Cast Steel Prods., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 348 F.3d 1298, 1300 (11th Cir.2003) ("under Florida law an ambiguity in an insurance policy must be construed in favor of the insured so as not to den......
  • Colony Ins. Co. v. Barnes, 120805 FLNDC, 5:05cv135-RH/WCS
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Northern District of Florida
    • December 8, 2005
    ...must be resolved in favor of the insured requiring the insurer to defend."); see also Cast Steel Prods., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 348 F.3d 1298, 1300 (11th Cir. 2003) ("under Florida law an ambiguity in an insurance policy must be construed in favor of the insured so as not to de......
  • Colony Ins. Co. v. Barnes, 120805 FLNDC, 5:05cv135-RH/WCS
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Northern District of Florida
    • December 8, 2005
    ...must be resolved in favor of the insured requiring the insurer to defend."); see also Cast Steel Prods., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 348 F.3d 1298, 1300 (11th Cir. 2003) ("under Florida law an ambiguity in an insurance policy must be construed in favor of the insured so as not to de......
  • Jackson Farming Company of Autryville v. FCCI Services, Inc., 082420 NCEDC, 7:19-CV-214-D
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 4th Circuit Eastern District of North Carolina
    • August 24, 2020
    ...2005 WL 1838433, at *9-10 (N.D. HI. July 29, 2005) (unpublished) (same); but see Cast Steel Prods., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 348 F.3d 1298, 1303-04 (11th Cir. 2003) (predicting Florida law and relying upon an Ohio Court of Appeals case to hold that it would be &quo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 firm's commentaries