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Eleventh Circuit: Inventory Computation Exclusion Bars Alabama Employee Theft Claim

In February, we reported on an Alabama federal court decision that barred an insured from recovering for employee theft where the only evidence of shortage was a comparison between computer records and a physical inventory conducted after the malefactor had been discharged.  On August 6th, a unanimous panel of the Eleventh Circuit affirmed in W.L. Petrey Wholesale Co. v. Great Amer. Ins. Co., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 13738, 2015 WL 4646599 (11th Cir., Aug. 6, 2015).  The judges held that the policy’s inventory computation exclusion was unambiguous and that inventory computation evidence was only admissible to prove the amount of loss after the existence of loss had been shown by other means. As we noted earlier this year, the insured

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Posted in Conditions, Exclusions, Theft or Dishonesty

Eleventh Circuit: Sinkhole Loss in Florida Must Impair the Property’s Structural Integrity to be Covered

Effective in 2005, Florida statutes defined “sinkhole loss” to mean “structural damage to the building, including the foundation, caused by sinkhole activity,” and they left the all-important term “structural damage” undefined.  Homeowner’s policies issued in the state employed that formulation until May 17, 2011, when Florida adopted a much narrower five-part definition of structural damage that applied to policies affording coverage for sinkhole loss, and many courts construing the 2005 language held that the term “structural damage” meant nothing more than “damage to the structure.”  Several weeks ago in Hegel v. First Liberty Ins. Corp., 778 F.3d 1214 (11th Cir., Feb. 27, 2015), a unanimous Eleventh Circuit panel held: (1) that defining structural damage to mean any “damage to the

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Posted in Direct Physical Loss or Damage, Homeowners Coverage, Sinkhole

Current Florida Sinkhole Statute Held to Apply Even Though Policy Used Prior Statute’s Formulation

Florida adopted a stringent, five-part definition of what constitutes a covered sinkhole loss in 2011, but many policies continue to employ the 2005 statutory formulation which merely defined “sinkhole loss” as “structural damage to the building, including a foundation, caused by sinkhole activity” and importantly left the term “structural damage” undefined.  The result was that Florida courts split into conflicting camps with respect to how such a contract of insurance should be read; the Middle District for example, held for policyholders in two cases and for the carrier in a third, as reported in a prior post that can found here.  When one of the former decisions recently reached the Eleventh Circuit, the Court of Appeals determined that the language

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Posted in Homeowners Coverage, Sinkhole
About The Property Insurance Law Observer
For more than four decades, Cozen O’Connor has represented all types of property insurers in jurisdictions throughout the United States, and it is dedicated to keeping its clients abreast of developments that impact the insurance industry. The Property Insurance Law Observer will survey court decisions, enacted or proposed legislation, and regulatory activities from all 50 states. We will also include commentary on current issues and developing trends of interest to first-party insurers.
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