Florida Coverage Team Earns Summary Judgment for Insurer in Alleged Theft Claim
Case Study

Florida Coverage Team Earns Summary Judgment for Insurer in Alleged Theft Claim

In a recent case in the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Pinellas County, attorneys collaborating across Goldberg Segalla’s Florida offices earned a summary judgment in favor of our client, a multinational insurance carrier.

In this case, the insured, a Michigan-based LLC, entered into a consignment agreement and provided its Ford-F-150 truck to a Florida-based auto dealer to sell. After potentially signing a contract and delivering the title to the auto dealer, the auto dealer sold the truck, but never remitted any of the sales proceeds.

As a result, the insured filed a declaratory judgment for coverage of the total loss of the truck under its insurance policy’s cause of loss for “theft.”

Goldberg Segalla’s Samantha S. Rhayem, Dustin C. Blumenthal, and Troy Beecher, members of firm’s Global Insurance Services based in Miami, West Palm Beach, and Orlando, took the insured’s examination under oath, conducted preliminary discovery through requests for admission, and took the insured’s deposition using the discovery to establish facts to support summary judgment. They argued that the policy affords coverage for the loss of a covered vehicle caused by theft, but it does not afford coverage for theft of funds in connection with the authorized sale of a covered vehicle.

Notably, upon investigation, they found that the auto dealer had been investigated several times for similar complaints, leading the insurer to believe that the auto dealer was in a fraudulent scheme of selling vehicles and absconding with the sales proceeds.

On December 10, 2020, the judge agreed in his order, providing clear support for the interpretation of “theft” as a covered cause of loss under Michigan law. He granted summary judgement to our client, effectively dismissing the complaint in its entirety.

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