Panettieri v. People's Tr. Ins. Co., 4D20-2624

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtCONNER, J.
Docket Number4D20-2624
Decision Date27 July 2022



No. 4D20-2624

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

July 27, 2022

Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Jeffrey R. Levenson, Judge; L.T. Case No. CACE-20-005074.

Mark A. Nation of The Nation Law Firm, LLP, Longwood, for appellant.

Mark D. Tinker of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A., Tampa, and Brett Frankel, Jonathan Sabghir and Jake A. Tover of People's Trust Insurance Company, Deerfield Beach, for appellee.

On Motion For A Written Opinion or for Certification


We grant the appellee's motion for written opinion, deny the motion for certification, withdraw our opinion dated April 20, 2022, and issue the following in its place:

Angelo Panettieri ("Insured") appeals the final summary judgment in favor of People's Trust Insurance Company ("People's Trust"). Insured argues that the trial court erred in entering its final summary judgment determining: (1) that the water damage exclusion endorsement ("WDE Endorsement") to the operative homeowner's insurance policy applied to Insured's claim; and (2) Insured's entire claim, including tear out costs, was limited to $10,000 in coverage under the policy's limited water damage coverage endorsement ("LWD Endorsement"). Our recent opinion in Dodge v. People's Trust Insurance Co., 321 So.3d 831 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021), controls the determination of Insured's first argument, based on the same type of loss and substantially the same policy language. Therefore, we


affirm Insured's first argument on appeal based on our analysis in Dodge. However, because we did not expressly resolve the Insured's argument regarding tear out costs in Dodge, we write here to explain why we affirm as to this second argument as well.


Insured obtained a homeowner's all-risk insurance policy issued by People's Trust. While the policy was in full force and effect, Insured suffered water damage caused by wear and tear, deterioration, and corrosion of the plumbing system under Insured's home. After Insured submitted a claim to People's Trust, People's Trust accepted coverage of the claim. However, People's Trust maintained that the policy limited coverage of the claim to $10,000 and issued payment in that amount. Insured disagreed with the payment amount and filed suit against People's Trust for breach of contract.

People's Trust moved for summary judgment maintaining its position that coverage was limited to $10,000 under the LWD Endorsement. Insured filed a competing motion for summary judgment, arguing in part that the LWD Endorsement limited only the portion of the claim seeking payment for direct losses due to water damage to $10,000, but did not limit the portion of the claim seeking payment for the cost of tearing out and repairing the portion of Insured's property needed for access to repair the plumbing system. In other words, Insured contended that even if the portion of the claim seeking payment for water damage was limited to $10,000 under the LWD Endorsement, the limit did not apply to the portion of the claim seeking payment for tear out costs.

After the trial court granted People's Trust's summary judgment motion, denied Insured's competing motion, and entered final summary judgment in favor of People's Trust, Insured gave notice of appeal.

Appellate Analysis

"Because it is a legal question, a trial court's grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo." Sunshine State Ins. Co. v. Jones, 77 So.3d 254, 257 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012) (citing Volusia Cnty. v. Aberdeen at Ormond Beach, L.P., 760 So.2d 126, 130 (Fla. 2000)). Similarly, interpretation of an insurance contract is a legal question reviewed de novo. Arias v. Affirmative Ins. Co., 944 So.2d 1195, 1197 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006).

"[I]nsurance contracts are interpreted according to the plain language of the policy except 'when a genuine inconsistency, uncertainty, or


ambiguity in meaning remains after resort to the ordinary rules of construction.'" Taurus Holdings, Inc. v. U.S. Fid. & Guar. Co., 913 So.2d 528, 532 (Fla. 2005) (quoting State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Pridgen, 498 So.2d 1245, 1248 (Fla. 1986)). Importantly, "a single policy provision should not be read in isolation and out of context, for the contract is to be construed according to its entire terms, as set forth in the policy and amplified by the policy application, endorsements, or riders." Certain Interested Underwriters at Lloyd's London v. Pitu, Inc., 95 So.3d 290, 292 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012) (quoting State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Mashburn, 15 So.3d 701, 704 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009)). Moreover, "[t]he law in Florida is clear that to the extent an endorsement is inconsistent with the body of the policy, the endorsement controls." Allstate Fire & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Hradecky, 208 So.3d 184, 187 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016) (citing Fam. Care Ctr., P.A. v. Truck Ins. Exch., 875 So.2d 750, 752 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004)).

The policy in this case is an all-risks policy. "An all-risks policy provides coverage for all losses not resulting from misconduct or fraud unless the policy contains a specific provision expressly excluding the loss from coverage." Kokhan v. Auto Club Ins. Co. of Fla., 297 So.3d 570, 572 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020) (emphasis added) (quoting Mejia v. Citizens Prop. Ins. Corp., 161 So.3d 576, 578 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014)). "[U]nder an all-risk policy, an exclusion applies if the loss clearly and unambiguously fits within its provisions." Liebel v. Nationwide Ins. Co. of Fla., 22 So.3d 111, 115 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009). "Ambiguous coverage provisions are construed strictly against the insurer that drafted the policy and liberally in favor of the insured." Id. at 115 (quoting Fayad v. Clarendon Nat'l Ins. Co., 899 So.2d 1082, 1086 (Fla. 2005)). "In reviewing the insurance policy, we begin with the principle that an insurance contract is construed 'in accordance with its plain language as bargained for by the...

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