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In Abraham v. Universal Insurance Company of North America, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1746c (Fla. 4th DCA August 14, 2013), the 4th DCA affirmed a summary judgment and held that while the trial court had granted summary judgment in favor of the insurance company for the wrong reason, the summary judgment was proper because the insurer had presented undisputed evidence that the mold damage on the insured's property was not connected to a covered peril.

The insured, David Abraham, had submitted a claim to Universal Insurance Company of North America ("UICNA") for mold damage caused by a water leak. UICNA denied the claim and the insured filed suit. UICNA asserted two defenses: (1) misrepresentation in the application for insurance as the premises were being used for a commercial enterprise rather than for residential purposes and (2) the policy excluded mold damage not connected to a covered peril. In its motion for summary judgment, UICNA argued both misrepresentation and exclusion from coverage along with the fact that no water leak was found in the premises. The trial court granted UICNA's summary judgment finding that there was a material misrepresentation. The insured appealed.

The 4th DCA affirmed the final summary judgment, which denied coverage under the residential tenant insurance policy. While the 4th DCA agreed with the insured that a material issue of fact remained as to the alleged misrepresentation (there was no evidence in the record as to whether the premises were being used for commercial purposes at the time of the application), it held that it could affirm the summary judgment if there was any basis to support the judgment. See Dade Cnty. Sch. Bd. v. Radio Station WQBA, 731 So.2d 638, 644 (Fla. 1999) (holding that if a trial court reaches the right result for the wrong reason, a judgment will be upheld if there is any basis in the record that would support the judgment).

The 4th DCA relied on UICNA's undisputed evidence that there was no water leak at the insured's premises. UICNA's expert had testified that the mold occurred due to defects in the construction process that were not covered by the policy. Therefore, because the policy did not cover mold unconnected to a peril, the 4th DCA held that summary judgment was appropriately entered albeit for the wrong reason.



This summary was prepared by Jason Urbanowicz of our firm.


Jason Urbanowicz

 

 

38 Fla. L. Weekly D1746c

 

Insurance -- Residential tenant -- Coverage -- Denial -- Where insurance company presented undisputed evidence that there was no water leak on premises, as insured claimed, and that mold damage was result of defects in construction process, which were not covered by policy, summary judgment was appropriately entered for insurer, albeit trial court entered summary judgment for wrong reason

DAVID ABRAHAM, Appellant, v. UNIVERSAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF NORTH AMERICA, a foreign insurance company, Appellee. 4th District. Case No. 4D12-2742. August 14, 2013. Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Janis Brustares Keyser, Judge; L.T. Case No. 502009CA041576XXXXMB. Counsel: Richard W. Glenn of Law Office of Richard W. Glenn, Palm Beach Gardens, for appellant. Beth Blechman and Robert C. Groelle of Groelle & Salmon, P.A., Wellington, for appellee.

(Per Curiam.) We affirm the final summary judgment denying coverage under a residential tenant insurance policy. The insured claimed that a water leak caused mold damage to the premises. The insurer defended, claiming both a misrepresentation in the application, in that the premises were in fact being used for a commercial enterprise, rather than for residential purposes, and also that the policy excluded mold damage. In its motion for summary judgment the insurer argued both the misrepresentation as well as the exclusions from coverage and the fact that no water leak was found in the premises. The trial court granted summary judgment, finding a material misrepresentation.

Although we conclude that a material issue of fact remained as to misrepresentation since there was no evidence in the record as to whether the premises were being used for commercial purposes at the time of the application, we can affirm where there is any basis to support the judgment. Dade Cnty. Sch. Bd. v. Radio Station WQBA, 731 So. 2d 638, 644 (Fla. 1999). ("[I]f a trial court reaches the right result, but for the wrong reasons, it will be upheld if there is any basis which would support the judgment in the record."). The insurance company presented undisputed evidence that there was no water leak, and the policy did not cover mold unconnected to a peril covered by the policy. Defects in the construction process, as the expert testified was how the mold occurred, are not covered by the policy. Therefore, the summary judgment was appropriately entered. (Warner, Stevenson and Taylor, JJ., concur.)




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