United Specialty Insurance Company v. Tzadik Acquisitions, LLC et al
ORDER ruling on motions for summary judgment 82, 85; judgments to enter; the Clerk shall close the file (optional filings from additional Defendants due by 9/28/2020). See Order for details. Signed by Judge Timothy J. Corrigan on 9/14/2020. (TNM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 3:18-cv-1465-J-32JBT
TZADIK ACQUISITIONS, LLC,
TZADIK MANAGEMENT GROUP,
LLC, TZADIK MANAGEMENT
GROUP 2, LLC, TZADIK
PROPERTIES, LLC, JAMES
RIVER INSURANCE COMPANY,
WILLA KIMBLE, As Personal
Representative of the Estate of
Alfred Lance, III, and COMMERCE
AND INDUSTRY INSURANCE
In October 2015, United Specialty Insurance Company issued a CGL
insurance policy (the “Policy”) to apartment complex operators Tzadik
Acquisitions, LLC and Tzadik Management Group 2, LLC. (Doc. 1-2). This case
is about whether coverage was limited to apartment properties listed in the
Policy’s declarations. United claims that the Policy insured only the designated
properties, while Tzadik argues the Policy covered an unlisted property, in
relation to an underlying lawsuit. Both parties filed motions for summary
judgment. (Docs. 82, 85). The Court received responses in opposition (Docs. 89,
90) and held a hearing on September 8, 2020, the record of which is incorporated
On October 14, 2016, Alfred Lance, III was shot and killed at Kings Trail
Apartments, a complex located at 3770 Toledo Road in Jacksonville, Florida.
(Doc. 1-1 ¶¶ 13–14). On behalf of Lance’s estate, Willa Kimble filed a wrongful
death lawsuit (the “Underlying Action”) against the property owners and
managers of Kings Trail, including Defendants Tzadik Acquisitions, LLC,
Tzadik Properties, LLC, Tzadik Management Group, LLC, and Tzadik
Management Group 2, LLC (collectively, “Tzadik”). 1 (See Doc. 1-1). Kimble
alleges that Tzadik failed to provide adequate security to protect Lance on the
night of his death. Id. ¶¶ 9–12, 19. In this declaratory judgment action, Tzadik
seeks coverage from United for the Underlying Action. 2
Kimble v. Tzadik Acquisitions, LLC, et al., Case No. 16-2017-CA-06741,
in the Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial Circuit in and for Duval County.
At the hearing, the Court was advised that this suit has now been
Insurance Application and Proposal
Tzadik first acquired an ownership interest in Kings Trail on August 2,
2014. (Doc. 85-6 at 7–8). Kings Trail is one of many apartment complexes that
Tzadik owns and manages across the United States. (Doc. 85-1 at 12:16–22).
Tzadik owns approximately sixty complexes in Florida, Georgia, Texas, South
Dakota, and Nebraska and typically maintains insurance for each property. Id.
at 13:10–25, 61:18–62:1. At the time of the fatal shooting, Tzadik held the Policy
with United that is at issue here. 3
In connection with the Policy, Tzadik submitted an application to United
that identifies forty-five apartment complexes owned or operated by Tzadik in
the application’s “Premises Information” section. (Doc. 85-5 at 3–11). The
complexes listed are located in various cities throughout Florida, but Kings
Trail is not included, and neither are any complexes in Jacksonville. Id. The
application cites Tzadik’s “Nature of Business” as “Apartments.” Id. at 3.
Tzadik was also insured through two other policies. First, Tzadik held
a wasting limits policy from Defendant James River Insurance Company and
James River is defending Tzadik in the Underlying Action, subject to a
reservation of rights. (Docs. 1-4, 85-3). The James River policy explicitly lists on
its schedule 3770 Toledo Road, the address of Kings Trail, as one of two
premises that Tzadik owned, rented, or occupied. (Doc. 85-3 at 4). The James
River policy also includes a Limitation of Coverage to Designated Premises, or
designated premises endorsement (DPE), that says the policy “applies only to
‘bodily injury,’ ‘property damage,’ or ‘personal and advertising injury’ arising
out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the premises shown in the above
Schedule.” Id. at 36. Second, Tzadik held an excess insurance policy with
Defendant Commerce and Industry Insurance Company (“CIIC”). (Doc. 85-4).
United Insurance Policy
United provided the commercial general liability (“CGL”) Policy at issue
to Tzadik Acquisitions and Tzadik Management Group 2 for the policy period
of October 15, 2015 through October 15, 2016. 4 (Docs. 1-2; 85-8 at 29:9–11). The
Policy limits coverage to $1,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 in the
general aggregate. (Doc. 1-2 at 4). The Policy’s “coverage territory” includes the
United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. 5 Id. at 23. The first endorsement to
the Policy adds Tzadik Management Group and Tzadik Properties as named
insureds and states that “[r]espective locations per Named Insured are held on
file.” Id. at 51.
The Policy provides liability coverage for bodily injury or property damage
and defines “bodily injury” as “bodily injury, sickness or disease sustained by a
person, including death resulting from any of these at any time.” Id. at 9, 23. In
relevant part, the Policy states:
We [United] will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally
obligated to pay as damages because of “bodily injury” or “property
The policy number is DCH00047-00. (Doc. 1-2).
Coverage territory also includes international waters or airspace if
injury or damage occurs in the course of travel or transportation between the
United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada, as well as other parts of the world if
the injury or damage arises out of goods or products made or sold by Tzadik in
the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada, activities of a person whose home is
in the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada but is away for a short time on
Tzadik’s business, or personal and advertising injury offenses that take place
through the internet or similar electronic means. (Doc. 1-2 at 23).
damage” to which this insurance applies. We will have the right and
duty to defend the insured against any “suit” seeking those
damages. However, we will have no duty to defend the insured
against any “suit” seeking damages for “bodily injury” or “property
damage” to which this insurance does not apply. We may, at our
discretion, investigate any “occurrence” and settle any claim or
“suit” that may result.
Id. at 11 (emphasis added).
The Policy contains Common Policy Declarations, a Schedule of Forms,
and CGL Declarations. Id. at 2–7. In the CGL Declarations, Tzadik’s business
description is “apartment building operators,” followed by a section which states
“ALL PREMISES YOU OWN, RENT, OR OCCUPY” and lists the same fortyfive addresses provided in Tzadik’s application. 6 Id. at 4–5. It does not list
Kings Trail. The following two pages list property classifications for each of
those addresses, with some addresses listed multiple times if the property
comprises several classifications, such as apartment complex, swimming pool,
and clubhouse. Id. at 6–7. In a chart, each location classification is assigned a
numerical code, premium base, rate, and premium price. Id. The individual
premium prices for each property added together amount to $260,258.00,
Tzadik’s “total annual premium.” Id. at 6–7. It then states “THESE
The addresses listed include properties in the following Florida cities:
Tampa, Lakeland, Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven, Mount Dora, Sarasota,
Eustis, Miami, Miami Beach, Oakland Park, and Fort Lauderdale. (Doc. 1-2 at
6–7). None of the properties listed are in Jacksonville or its surrounding areas.
CONDITIONS AND COVERAGE FORM(S) AND ANY ENDORSEMENT(S),
COMPLETE THE ABOVE NUMBERED POLICY.” Id. at 7. The Policy’s terms
“can be amended or waived only by endorsement issued by [United] and made
a part of this policy.” Id. at 8. Section IV provides that “[t]he statements in the
Declarations are accurate and complete,” that “[t]hose statements are based
upon representations [Tzadik] made to [United],” and that “[United] ha[s]
issued this policy in reliance upon [Tzadik’s] representations.” Id. at 22–23.
During the Policy period, Tzadik added and removed apartment locations
from the Policy through endorsements, and premiums changed accordingly.
(Doc. 1-2 at 53–56, 60, 69, 75–76, 80, 84). Kings Trail was never added. The
Policy does not contain a designated premises endorsement, or DPE. 7 (Docs. 12, 85-8 at 28:11–15).
United seeks a declaration that it has no duty to defend Tzadik in the
Underlying Action because (1) Kings Trail is not one of the forty-five properties
scheduled on the Policy, and (2) Tzadik failed to provide United with timely
notice of the shooting, thereby prejudicing United. (Doc. 85). Conversely, Tzadik
asks that the Court find (1) that United breached its contractual duty to defend
A DPE is a type of endorsement that may be made to a CGL policy to
restrict coverage to injuries and damages arising out of the ownership,
maintenance, or use of specified premises. 3 Ins. Claims & Disputes § 11:22B
Tzadik in the Underlying Action, and (2) that United waived the defense of late
notice by failing to comply with Florida’s Claims Administration Statute, and
United cannot articulate prejudice resulting from the alleged late notice. 8 (Doc.
This case presents a pure question of contract interpretation. “The
interpretation of insurance policies, like the interpretation of all contracts, is
generally a question of law.” Goldberg v. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh,
143 F. Supp. 3d 1283, 1292 (S.D. Fla. 2015) (citing Lawyers Title Ins. Corp. v.
JDC (Am.) Corp., 52 F.3d 1575, 1580 (11th Cir. 1995)). The Court must,
therefore, interpret Tzadik’s insurance Policy with United to determine
whether the Policy covered Kings Trail. 9
On August 12, 2019, the Court issued an Order granting Tzadik’s
Motion to Stay United’s Duty to Indemnify and Related Deadlines. (Doc. 62).
All determinations and deadlines regarding the duty to indemnify were stayed
pending resolution of the Underlying Action. Thus, the parties’ motions for
summary judgment pertain only to the duty to defend issue. However, if there
is no duty to defend, there is no duty to indemnify.
At oral argument, counsel for Tzadik admitted that the parol evidence
in this case disfavors Tzadik’s position, but both parties agree that the Court
will not consider parol evidence and will limit its consideration to the Policy.
See, e.g., Lawyers Title Ins. Corp., 52 F.3d at 1580 (“Questions of fact arise only
when an ambiguous contract term forces the court to turn to extrinsic evidence
of the parties’ intent, such as precontract negotiations, to interpret the disputed
Florida law governs the interpretation of the Policy. 10 (Docs. 82 at 6 n.4,
85). The “Florida Supreme Court has made clear that the language of the policy
is the most important factor. Under Florida law, insurance contracts are
construed according to their plain meaning.” James River Ins. Co. v. Ground
Down Eng’g, Inc., 540 F.3d 1270, 1274–75 (11th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted)
(quoting Taurus Holdings, Inc. v. United States Fid. & Guar. Co., 913 So. 2d
528, 537 (Fla. 2005)). When a policy’s language is plain and unambiguous, “a
court must interpret the policy in accordance with the plain meaning of the
language used so as to give effect to the policy as written.” Travelers Indem. Co.
v. PCR Inc., 889 So. 2d 779, 785 (Fla. 2004); see also State Farm Fire & Cas.
Co. v. Steinberg, 393 F.3d 1226, 1230 (11th Cir. 2004) (“In insurance coverage
cases under Florida law, courts look at the insurance policy as a whole and give
every provision its full meaning and operative effect.”) (quotation omitted).
However, “[i]f the relevant policy language is susceptible to more than
one reasonable interpretation, one providing coverage and the other limiting
coverage, the insurance policy is considered ambiguous, and must be
When federal jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship under 28
U.S.C. § 1332(2) and when an insurance policy is issued for delivery in Florida,
both of which are the case here, the Court applies the substantive law of Florida.
See, e.g., Key Custom Homes, Inc. v. Mid-Continent Cas. Co., 450 F. Supp. 2d
1311, 1316 (M.D. Fla. 2006) (“Because the jurisdiction of the Court is based on
diversity of citizenship, and since the CGL Policy was issued in Florida, the
Court must look to the substantive law of Florida for guidance in interpreting
interpreted liberally in favor of the insured and strictly against the drafter who
prepared the policy.” Steinberg, 393 F.3d at 1230 (quotations omitted). “While
the insured has the burden of proving that a claim against it is covered by the
insurance policy, the insurer has the burden of proving an exclusion to
coverage.” Doe v. North River Ins. Co., 719 F. Supp. 2d 1352, 1357 (M.D. Fla.
2010) (citing LeFarge Corp. v. Travelers Indem. Co., 118 F.3d 1511, 1516 (11th
Whether a duty to defend exists is a question of law that “depends solely
on the allegations in the complaint filed against the insured.” Trizec Properties,
Inc. v. Biltmore Const. Co., 767 F.2d 810, 811 (11th Cir. 1985) (applying Florida
law). “[I]f the allegations of the complaint alleging a claim against the insured
are acts not covered by the policy, or are excluded from the policy’s coverage,
the insurer is not obligated to defend or indemnify the insured.” Certain
Interested Underwriters at Lloyd’s London Subscribing to Certificate of Ins. No.
9214 v. Halikoytakis, No. 8:09-CV-1081-T-17TGW, 2011 WL 1296816, at *2
(M.D. Fla. Mar. 31, 2011), aff’d, 444. F. App’x 328 (11th Cir. 2011) (quotation
omitted); see also id. at *1 (“If an insurer does not have a duty to defend, then
it does not have a duty to indemnify,” as “[t]he duty to defend ceases when it is
shown that there is no potential for coverage, i.e. when there is no duty to
Tzadik’s application, which the parties agree is incorporated into the
Policy, 11 lists the forty-five Tzadik properties for which it seeks coverage. (Doc.
85-5). Kings Trail is not listed. The Policy itself, issued by United to Tzadik, is
an eighty-four-page document that begins with Common Policy Declarations, a
DECLARATIONS . . . COMPLETE THE . . . POLICY.” Id. at 7. On the first
page of the Policy, Tzadik’s business description is “apartment building
operators.” Id. at 2. The CGL Declarations list the addresses of the same fortyfive properties as in Tzadik’s application under the title “ALL PREMISES YOU
OWN, RENT, OR OCCUPY,” and assign a corresponding premium(s) for each
address. Id. at 4–7. Those premiums total $260,258.00, the annual price for
Tzadik to maintain the insurance Policy with United. Id. at 2, 7. Like in the
application, Kings Trail is not listed.
Tzadik provides no explanation for the list of addresses in the Policy
(apart from arguing that the list needed not be exhaustive) and seems to suggest
the list has no meaning. This cannot be the case. The CGL Declarations are
explicitly part of the Policy; the Court must give “full meaning and operative
effect” to all provisions of the Policy, including the declarations. Steinberg, 393
See, e.g., Mathews v. Ranger Ins. Co., 281 So. 2d 345, 348 (Fla. 1973)
(“The application thus becomes a part of the agreement between the parties and
the policy together with the application form the contract of insurance.”).
F.3d at 1230. Tzadik operates apartment complexes, and the list of complexes
provides the very basis for the Policy’s annual premium. Tzadik added and
subtracted apartment complexes it acquired or sold during the policy period and
United adjusted the premium accordingly. (Doc. 1-2 at 53–56, 60, 69, 75–76, 80,
84). If the schedule of premises were meant to provide only an idea of Tzadik’s
business, as opposed to an operative list of the properties and business insured
under the Policy, these amendments would have been superfluous.
Tzadik is correct that the Policy is not a premises liability policy that
insures only certain premises; it is a CGL Policy that insures businesses against
third-party liability. See, e.g., Evanston Ins. Co. v. Gaddis Corp., 145 F. Supp.
3d 1140, 1149 (S.D. Fla. 2015) (“The primary purpose of a [CGL] policy . . . is to
protect businesses from third-party liability incurred as a result of that
company’s business operations.”) (quotation omitted). It is also true that the
“coverage territory” under the Policy is the United States, Canada, and Puerto
Rico, and that the Policy does not contain a DPE. Also, any ambiguity in the
Policy must be construed in in favor of Tzadik and against United, as the
Policy’s drafter. See, e.g., Steinberg, 393 F.3d at 1230. However, none of these
things mean United is bound to provide coverage for an apartment complex not
listed in the Declarations. The cases Tzadik relies upon to argue for coverage
In Am. Empire Surplus Lines Ins. Co. v. Chabad House of N. Dade, Inc.,
771 F. Supp. 2d 1336, 1343 (S.D. Fla. 2011), aff’d 450 F. App’x 792 (11th Cir.
2011), the court held that allegations of abuse were excluded from the policy’s
coverage, and that the policy’s DPE was ambiguous and did not bar coverage
for acts that occurred away from the defendant volunteer organization’s office.
There, the nature of the defendant’s business—sending volunteers out to help
children with disabilities—was fundamentally different than Tzadik’s business
as an apartment complex operator, and there is no indication that the policy
structure was based on scheduled locations. 12 In Szczeklik v. Markel Int’l Ins.
Co., 942 F. Supp. 2d 1254 (M.D. Fla. 2013), aff’d, 546 F. App’x 926 (11th Cir.
2013), the court found that a DPE in a distributor’s policy was ambiguous and
therefore did not preclude coverage for underlying personal injury claims when
an auto shop employee was injured by the distributor’s product that had been
taken to the auto shop in the ordinary course of the distributor’s business.
Again, this case involved a different type of insured business and an ambiguous
DPE. Here, there was no DPE. Thus, unlike Szczeklik, United is not trying to
rely on a DPE exclusion to deny coverage. Cf. id. at 1260–63.
The final case that Tzadik cites, and upon which it relied heavily at the
hearing, Gaddis, 145 F. Supp. 3d, is more similar but still distinct from this
The discussion in Chabad House upon which Tzadik relies is also dicta.
case. The Gaddis CGL policy contained a “Schedule of Locations” with seventyone specific addresses to which the insurance applied. Id. at 1144. A critical
difference, however, is that the insured in Gaddis was a taxi company, and the
underlying suit involved a customer who was “viciously assaulted” by a driver
during a cab ride. Id. The unoccupied parking lot where the assault took place
was not on the insurance policy’s Schedule of Locations. Id. Though the policy
contained a DPE, the court found that the policy was “rife with conflicting
pronouncements, which create sufficient ambiguity to construe the Policy in
favor of coverage.” Id. at 1149. Here, the business insured is fundamentally
different, the Declarations limiting coverage to the listed apartment premises
are clear, and there is no ambiguous DPE (the Policy has none).
This case is far more akin to Nugget Oil, Inc. v. Universal Sec. Ins. Co.,
584 So. 2d 1068 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991). There, plaintiff Nugget Oil faced a liquor
liability lawsuit pertaining to one of its fifty convenience store locations in
Alabama and Florida. Id. at 1069. Nugget Oil argued that its insurance policy
covered its Alabama stores, despite having crossed out its Alabama store
locations on the application’s list of the “names and addresses of all locations.”
Id. The Florida appellate court squarely rejected Nugget Oil’s argument. Id. at
1072. The court found that the insurance policy and application, read together,
limited coverage to Nugget Oil’s Florida stores. Id. at 1069–70. In so holding,
the court stated: “[I]n determining which Nugget stores were insured against
liquor liability claims, we cannot ignore the identification of the insured
locations found in the application.” Id. at 1070. Similarly, the Court cannot
ignore the identification of the forty-five insured locations here, found not only
in Tzadik’s application, but also in the Declarations to its Policy. The court in
Nugget Oil acknowledged the “maxim of insurance law which provides that
insurance contracts must be liberally construed against the insurer,” but
emphasized that the rule applies only when “a genuine inconsistency,
uncertainty, or ambiguity in meaning remains after resort to the ordinary rules
of construction.” Id. at 1070–71. There was no such inconsistency in Nugget Oil,
and there is none here. 13
Tzadik asserts that a DPE may have limited the Policy to the properties
listed in the CGL Declarations, but without a DPE, the Policy covers all of
Tzadik’s business locations whether they were listed in the Declarations or not.
This DPE argument is a red herring. A CGL policy may well cover an occurrence
outside the premises listed (so long as it occurs within the “coverage territory”),
when the occurrence arises from the scheduled premises. But the lack of a DPE
does not expand the Policy’s coverage beyond what is clearly demarked in the
Policy’s Declarations. 14
The Court acknowledges that the policy in Nugget Oil was a liquor
liability policy, not a CGL policy, but the reasoning of Nugget Oil is persuasive
As conceded by Tzadik’s counsel at the hearing, Tzadik’s argument,
To the extent that the Gaddis court requires coverage limitations to
specific locations to be “clear and unequivocal,” Gaddis, 145 F. Supp. 3d at 1149,
the Court finds this standard to have been met. Despite the creative efforts of
Tzadik, the coverage question is straightforward, and the Policy is not
ambiguous. Tzadik applied for CGL coverage for forty-five of its apartment
complexes. United issued the Policy for those forty-five properties, listing them
in the Declarations under the heading “ALL PREMISES YOU OWN, RENT,
OR OCCUPY.” The premium paid was an aggregation of the individual
premiums for each of the forty-five properties. Kings Trail was not one of those
properties. The assault occurred at Kings Trail. The Court cannot rewrite the
Policy to include coverage for Kings Trail. Szczeklik, 942 F. Supp. 2d at 1260
(“[A] court cannot rewrite an insurance contract to extend coverage beyond
what is clearly set forth in the contractual language.”) (quoting Florida
Residential Prop. & Cas. Joint Underwriting Ass’n v. Kron, 721 So. 2d 825, 826
(Fla. 3d DCA 1998)). Accordingly, United is entitled to a declaratory judgment
that it has no duty to defend Tzadik in the Underlying Action.
Accordingly, it is hereby
taken to its logical conclusion, would mean that even if the Policy had listed
only one of Tzadik’s apartment properties in the Declarations, the Policy still
would have insured all of Tzadik’s properties, simply because the Policy is a
CGL Policy. The Court is unpersuaded.
Plaintiff United Specialty Insurance Company’s Amended Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. 85) is GRANTED.
Defendants Tzadik Acquisitions, LLC, Tzadik Management Group,
LLC, Tzadik Management Group 2, LLC, and Tzadik Properties, LLC’s Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. 82) is DENIED.
As to Count I of the Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (Doc. 1),
United has no duty to defend or indemnify Tzadik under Policy No. DCH0004700 in the Underlying Action. Declaratory Judgment to that effect will be
entered in favor of Plaintiff United Specialty Insurance Company against
Defendants Tzadik Acquisitions, LLC, Tzadik Management Group, LLC,
Tzadik Management Group 2, LLC, and Tzadik Properties, LLC.
Having found that the Policy did not cover Kings Trail, and that
United therefore has no duty to defend Tzadik in the Underlying Action, the
Court need not proceed to the notice issue. Thus, the Court finds Count II of the
Complaint to be moot.
Judgment will also be entered on Count I of the counterclaim (Doc.
30) in favor of Plaintiff United Specialty Insurance Company and against
Defendants Tzadik Acquisitions, LLC, Tzadik Management Group, LLC,
Tzadik Management Group 2, LLC, and Tzadik Properties, LLC.
Though Tzadik’s bad faith counterclaim, Count II, was previously
abated (Doc. 51), in light of the Court’s ruling, the bad faith counterclaim is now
The Court assumes this Order resolves all pending matters and
directs the Clerk to close the file now. However, because there are additional
Defendants who are not parties to the motions decided herein, if any of those
Defendants have other matters for the Court to resolve, they should file
appropriate documents no later than September 28, 2020.
DONE AND ORDERED in Jacksonville, Florida the 14th day of
TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN
United States District Judge
Counsel of record
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?