subrogation

Reversing Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice Based on Interpretation of Commercial Lease

Posted by David Adelstein on February 24, 2019
Standard of Review, Trial Perspectives / Comments Off on Reversing Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice Based on Interpretation of Commercial Lease

“’In determining the merits of a motion to dismiss, the trial court must limit itself to the four corners of the complaint, including any attached or incorporated exhibits, assuming the allegations in the complaint to be true and construing all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the non-moving party.Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v. Puccini, LLC, 2019 WL 454222, *1 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019) (citation omitted).   The standard of review associated with reviewing a trial court’s order granting a motion to dismiss with prejudice is de novoId.  

In Puccini, a commercial tenant operating a restaurant caused a fire. The fire resulted in significant damage to the commercial landlord’s building – the landlord’s property insurer paid it over $2.1 Million.    The insurer then, as a subrogee to the landlord, brought a subrogation action against the tenant that caused the fire damage.  The trial court granted the tenant’s motion to dismiss the subrogation action based on the tenant’s argument that it was an implied co-insured under the landlord’s insurance policy and, of course, an insurer cannot pursue a subrogation action against its own insured. 

The appellate court reversed the trial court’s dismissal finding that to determine whether a landlord’s insurer can pursue a subrogation action against a tenant, a court needs to adopt the case-by-case approach.  Under this approach, “there is no presumption if favor of or against subrogation; rather, the [commercial] lease-as-a-whole is examined in order to ascertain the intent of the parties as to who should bear the risk of loss for damage to the leased premises caused by the tenant’s negligence.”  Puccini, 2019 WL at *2 (internal quotations omitted).   The appellate court, examining the lease-as-a-whole attached as an exhibit to the lawsuit, found that the tenant bore the risk of negligence and was not an implied co-insured with the landlord.

 

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summary Judgment Entered in Favor of Defendant on Equitable Subrogation Claim

Posted by David Adelstein on April 22, 2018
Appeal, Trial Perspectives / Comments Off on Summary Judgment Entered in Favor of Defendant on Equitable Subrogation Claim

I recently wrote an article how there are times when a party is seeking reimbursement for solely economic losses, their best recourse is an equitable subrogation claim.   The article also discusses the application of equitable subrogation dealing with an actual fact pattern.

Equitable subrogation, you say?  In an equitable subrogation claim, a party pays for damages (or a debt) it believes were caused by another party.  The party then pursues reimbursement against the party it believes primarily responsible for the damages or debt.  No one wants to pay for damages or a debt it believes were caused by a third party!

There are five (5) elements to an equitable subrogation claim that the subrogee, the party that paid off the damages or debt, must prove:

  1. The party (subrogee) made the payment to protects its own interests;
  2. The party (subrogee) did not volunteer the payment — it was not making the payment as a volunteer;
  3. The party (subrogee) was not primarily liable for the damages or debt it seeks reimbursement for; 
  4. The party (subrogee) paid off the entire debt it seeks reimbursement for; and
  5. Subrogation would not work any injustice, i.e., it would not be unfair.

Tank Tech, Inc. v. Valley Tank Testing, L.L.C., 43 Fla.L.Weekly D868a (Fla. 2d DCA 2018) quoting Dade Cty. Sch. Bd. v. Radio Station WQBA, 731 So.2d 638, 646 (Fla. 1999).

Notably, in Tank Tech, Inc., the trial court granted summary judgment against the party pursing equitable subrogation. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the defendant.  The appellate court reversed for the factual reasons discussed in the article.  

As you may know from reading this blog, a motion for summary judgment is reviewed on appeal under a de novo standard of appellate review.  Summary judgment is only proper if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the party moving for summary judgment is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.

Where the defendant is the party moving for summary judgment, as here, ‘neither the trial court nor this court determines whether the plaintiff can prove [its] case; our function solely is to determine whether the pleadings, depositions, and affidavits conclusively show that the plaintiff cannot prove [its] case.’”  Tank Tech, Inc., supra, quoting Crandall v. S.W. Fla. Blood Bank, Inc., 581 So.2d 593, 595 (Fla. 2d DCA 1991).  The takeaway is that a plaintiff is NOT required to prove its entire case when responding to a defendant’s motion for summary judgment and the court’s job is not to determine whether the plaintiff can prove its case at trial.  Rather, the job is to determine whether the the undisputed material facts “conclusively show that the plaintiff cannot prove its case.”  Id.

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

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