Stavrakis v. Underwriters at Lloyd's London
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION on bench trial conducted November 6, 2017. The Plaintiff is directed to submit a proposed form of final judgment consistent with the terms of this order within 14 days. The Clerk of Court is directed to close this case and terminate any pending motions. Signed by Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich on 12/1/2017. (EJJ)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No: 8:16-cv-2343-T-17JSS
UNDERWRITERS AT LLOYD'S
This action for declaratory judgment regarding the duties of the Defendant,
Underwriters at Lloyd's London (the "Defendant"), to defend and/or indemnify the
Plaintiff, Antigoni Stavrakis (the "Plaintiff'), was tried before the Court on November 6,
2017. According to the Court's order on summary judgment (Doc. No. 52), the sole factual
issue for trial was whether the Plaintiff's son, Phillip Stavrakis, was a member of her
household at the time of the shooting incident that prompted this dispute.
Stavrakis was a member of his mother's household, any -losses caused by Phillip's
conduct are not covered under the Defendant's policy of insurance. If, on the other hand,
Phillip Stavrakis was not a member of the Plaintiff's household, any injuries he caused
would not be excluded from coverage under the policy. Having considered the parties'
positions and the evidence introduced and admitted at trial, the Court makes the following
findings of facts and conclusions of law 1 in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil
To the extent any findings of fact may constitute conclusions of law, or vice versa, they
are adopted as such.
Findings of Fact
The Plaintiff, Antigoni Stavrakis, owns a duplex comprising Units 406 and
410, Grand Boulevard, Tarpon Springs, Florida 34689. (Trial Tr. 8:18-23; 13:18-22).
The Defendant is the Plaintiff's homeowner's insurer pursuant to a policy
covering 410 Grand Boulevard effective August 6, 2012 through August 6, 2013. (Doc.
No. 45-3, at 8). The policy provides for $300,000 in personal liability insurance for bodily
injury or property damage caused by an occurrence under the policy. (Doc. No. 45-3, at
The Plaintiff's property located at 406 and 410, Grand Boulevard, Tarpon
Springs, Florida 34689 was originally constructed as a triplex. (Trial Tr. 11: 10-14). The
Plaintiff and her late husband lived together in Unit 410 for more than 50 years. (Trial Tr.
During that time, the Plaintiff's aunt lived in the middle unit, Unit 408, for
approximately 15 years. (Trial Tr. 11: 17-22). When the Plaintiff's aunt passed away, the
property was converted into a duplex, and Unit 408 was combined into Unit 410. (Trial Tr.
Throughout this time, Unit 406 was reserved as a rental unit. (Trial Tr.
11 :22-25). Unit 406 is a fully-functioning, self-contained, one bedroom, one bathroom
apartment. (Trial Tr. 62: 19-22). There is no shared living space or internal means of
access between Units 406 and 410. (Trial Tr. 13:15-17). Units 406 and 410 share a
common laundry facility located on (and only accessible from) the exterior of Unit 410.
(Trial Tr. 15: 1-6; 59:2-5).
Occupation of Unit 406 by John D. and Phillip Stavrakis
In the past, the Plaintiff's late husband rented Unit 406 to various tenants
living in the Tarpon Springs area. (Trial Tr. 63:14-18).
However, more recently, the
Plaintiff and her late husband allowed their adult sons --- John D. (age 58) and Phillip
(age 59) --- to live in Unit 406. (Trial Tr. 12:4-12; 9:20-10:9). The Plaintiff and her late
husband did not require either of their sons to enter into written lease agreements or pay
rent when they lived in Unit 406. (Trial Tr. 14:3-8). Rather, John D. and Phillip paid their
parents approximately $300 per month to cover their utilities. (Trial Tr. 14:13-18; 57:510). The Plaintiff and her late husband paid all of the taxes and insurance on Units 406
and 410. (Trial Tr. 27:13-22).
John D. lived in Unit 406 for approximately 5 years. (Trial Tr. 12:5-7). While
residing in Unit 406, John D. assisted his parents by mowing the lawn and helping them
maintain their financial affairs. (Trial Tr. 108: 14-24; 117: 18-118:3). After John D. moved
out, the property sat vacant for a period of time, and was later occupied by Phillip.· (Trial
Phillip Stavrakis' Personal Life while Living in Unit 406
Before moving into Unit 406, Phillip had been estranged from the family for
approximately 20 years. (Trial Tr. 114:18-24).
At some point, Phillip attended and
obtained a master's degree in clinical psychology from a college in Alabama. (Trial Tr:
12:9-11 ). He then moved back to Florida and spent some time living in another apartment
in the Tampa Bay area with his girlfriend and their child. (Trial Tr. 12:9-14).
After Phillip began living in Unit 406, his father became blind and was
unable to drive. (Trial Tr. 16:23-17:2). As a result, Phillip began driving his father to
various appointments and, due to the two spending more time together, Phillip and his
father became very close. (Trial Tr. 17:1-2). While Phillip purportedly maintained his own
automobile insurance, (Trial Tr. 29:6-8), due to the fact that he was driving his father's
vehicle to and from medical appointments, Phillip was added to his parents' auto
insurance policy as an additional driver. (Trial Tr. 75:5-11; 77:20-24).
When Phillip first began living in Unit 406 he had a job working at a drug
rehabilitation clinic. (Trial Tr. 16: 13-20). However, Phillip was subsequently diagnosed
with multiple sclerosis and was unable to continue working. (Trial Tr. 16:21-22).
Nevertheless, during this time, Phillip was able to maintain a relationship with a female
friend, Katherine Manousos, who he dated for approximately five months between March
and August of 2012. (Trial Tr. 81 :14-19). While the two dated, Ms. Manousos would visit
Phillip three to four times a week at Unit 406. (Trial Tr. 81 :24-82:1). Ms. Manousos and
Phillip would visit the Plaintiff and eat meals with her in Unit 410 once or twice a week.
(Trial Tr. 82:19-83:4).
The Shooting Incident
This story took a tragic turn on August 12, 2012, when the Plaintiff's
husband passed away. (Trial Tr. 108:17-20). The following day, August 13, 2012, the
Stavrakis family congregated in Unit 410 to prepare funeral arrangements. (Trial Tr.
108: 19-20). During the afternoon of August 13, 2012, John D. noticed that Phillip was not
present at the family gathering and decided to go next door to Unit 406 to console him.
(Trial Tr. 108:21-23). John D. walked to Unit 406 and knocked on the door, at which time
Phillip opened the door and allowed John D. to enter the apartment. (Trial Tr. 108:23109:2). When John D. stepped in he observed that Phillip was holding a pistol in his right
hand. (Trial Tr. 109:3-4). John D. attempted to give Phillip a hug, but Phillip shot him in
the abdomen. (Trial Tr. 109:6-8). Phillip then shot John D. a second time through the
right arm, a third time in the left arm, and a fourth time in the back. (Trial Tr. 109:16-21).
During the melee, John D. made a break for the back door of the apartment and managed
to escape. (Trial Tr. 109:22-110:8). John D. then managed to run back to Unit 410, at
which time medical personnel were called and John D. was airlifted to Bayfront Medical
Center where he remained for 36 days. (Trial Tr. 108:7-13; 110:6-14).
Phillip was subsequently apprehended, charged with first-degree attempted
murder, and convicted of second-degree attempted murder. (Trial Tr. 110:15-111 :2).
Phillip is currently incarcerated in the Florida prison system. (Trial Tr. 111 :3-5).
The State Court Action
Following the shooting, John D. and his wife filed a lawsuit against the
Plaintiff in state court alleging that she was negligent in allowing Phillip to live in Unit 406
and for failing to warn John D. that he possessed a firearm. (Trial Tr. 20:1-15). The
Plaintiff notified the Defendant of the lawsuit, and requested that it defend and indemnify
her for any losses. (Trial Tr. 21 :7-15). The Defendant denied the Plaintiff's requests and
this lawsuit ensued. (Trial Tr. 73:5-16).
Conclusions of Law
·This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2), as the
Plaintiff is a citizen of a State, the Defendant is a citizen of a foreign state, and the amount
in controversy exceeds $75,000.00.
"Pursuant to Florida law, interpretation of an insurance policy is a question
of law to be decided by the court." Divine Motel Grp., LLC v. Rockhill Ins. Co., 2015 WL
4095449, at *6 (M.D. Fla. July 7, 2015) (internal quotations omitted).
whether a policy provides for coverage, "the insured bears the [initial] burden of proving
that a claim is covered." Id. Where the insured satisfies this initial burden, but the insurer
argues that an exclusion otherwise bars coverage, "the burden of proving an exclusion to
coverage is on the insurer." Id.
Section II. A. of the Defendant's insurance policy, titled "Coverage E -
Personal Liability," provides coverage for bodily injury or property damage caused by an
"occurrence." (Doc. No. 45-3, at 48). The policy defines "[o]ccurrence" as "an accident,
including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful
conditions, which results, during the policy period, in: a. 'Bodily injury'; or b. 'Property
damage."' (Doc. No. 45-3, at 34).
Section II. E. of the policy goes on to exclude from coverage any bodily
injury or property damage "expected or intended by an insured." (Doc. No. 45-3, at 49).
The issue for trial is whether Phillip Stavrakis is an "insured" under the
policy. If he is, the exclusion for injuries "expected or intended by an insured" applies
and, consequently, any bodily injuries or property damage caused by Phillip Stavrakis are
not covered under the policy.
The policy defines the term "[i]nsured," in pertinent part, as the named
insureds and residents of the named insureds' ''household" who are relatives. (Doc. No.
45-3, at 33). The policy lists the Plaintiff and her late husband as the named insureds.
(Doc. No. 45-3, at 8). Since Phillip is not a named insured, he only qualifies as an insured
if he is a member of his mother's household.
The term "household" is not defined in the policy, but courts have interpreted
the term to include persons who share "(1) close ties of kinship, (2) a fixed dwelling unit,
and (3) enjoyment of all the living facilities." Row v. United Setvices Auto. Ass'n, 474
So.2d 348,. 349 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985).
More broadly, "the main thread of a family
household is the sharing of companionship and living facilities in a dwelling unit by
members of a household." Id.
· In Am. Security Ins. Co. v. Van Hoose, the Fifth District Court of Appeal
considered whether a daughter living in a house across the street from her father was a
member of her father's household. 416 So.2d 1273, 1274 (Fla. 5th DCA 1982). The court
noted that despite the fact that the daughter had a job, she still received substantial
financial assistance from her father. Id. at 1275. Nevertheless, the daughter maintained
her lease, utilities, and tax obligations in her own name. Id. at 1276. Additionally, prior to
moving in across the street from her father, the daughter had been married and lived in
Michigan for several years. Id. Based on those facts, the court held that the daughter
was not a member of her father's household simply by virtue of the fact that they lived
across the street and he paid a substantial portion of his daughter's expenses. Id. Rather,
the court held that the daughter's acts of marrying, moving to Michigan, and attempting
to establish her own household upon returning to Florida demonstrated that she and her
father maintained separate households. Id.
In Row, the First District Court of Appeal was charged with deciding whether
a son living in one unit of a 12 unit quad rip lex complex owned by his father was a member
of his father's household. 474 So.2d at 350. In Row, the son suffered from a mental
illness that required repeated hospitalizations and periods of confinement. Id. at 350.
Afterwards, the son was discharged into his father's care, at which time he began living
.in the quadriplex unit. Id. While the son lived at the quadriplex, his two younger brothers,
sister, and father also resided in separate units at the complex. Id. Each child had a
master key to the family units and were free to come and go among the units as they
pleased. Id. None of the children paid any rent or signed lease agreements, however
they did perform maintenance and upkeep around the complex. Id. While living at the
quadriplex, the son did not maintain a regular job. Id.
Based on the "unique
circumstances" of the case, the court held that the son and his father shared
characteristics essential to the concept of a family household. Id. at 351. The court
distinguished the situation in Row from that in Van Hoose, noting that unlike in Van Hoose,
the son did not take a prolonged leave of absence from the family unit and instead was
accorded the financial and emotional support typically extended to a dependent member
of a family household. Id.
Similarly, in Kepple v. Aetna Gas. & Sur. Co., the Second District Court of
Appeal was faced with an analogous situation in which a newlywed daughter and her
husband moved into a converted carport in her parents' home. 634 So.2d 220, 221 (Fla.
2d DCA 1994). The young couple had their own small kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.
Id. While this living arrangement provided the young couple with some semblance of
privacy, all of the involved persons had free access to the entire residence. Id. Moreover,
the young couple did not pay any rent or utilities, and the daughter was not employed. Id.
Prior to moving into the attached carport with her new husband, the daughter lived at
home wither her parents. Id. Under those circumstances, the court held that the daughter
was a member of her parents' household. Id. at 223.
In contrast to the persons involved in the Row, Van Hoose, and Kepple
cases, Phillip Stavrakis is not a young adult who has yet to obtain complete independence
from his parents. To the contrary, Phillip Stavrakis is 59 years old, (Trial Tr. 9:20-10:9),
has an adult child of his own, (Trial Tr. 74:7-15), has a history of maintaining serious
relationships with female companions, (Trial Tr. 81:14-19), and paid many of his own
expenses. (Trial Tr. 29:6-8). It further appears that Phillip has achieved an advanced
degree from a post-secondary institution, (Trial Tr. 12:9-11), lived independent of his
parents for several decades, (Trial Tr. 114:18-24), and worked for substantial periods of
his adult life. (Trial Tr. 16: 13-20). Moreover, it appears that until recently, Phillip was not
close with his parents or other siblings, and instead was estranged from his family for
approximately 20 years. (Trial Tr. 114:18-24). These facts all militate away from a finding
that Phillip was a member of his parents' household at the time of the shooting incident.
On the other hand, the facts that Phillip was free to come and go between
Units 406 and 410, 2 did not pay rent, (Trial Tr. 14:3-8), and shared meals with his parents,
(Trial Tr. 82:19-83:4), are somewhat indicative of a family household relationship.
Moreover, it appears that as Phillip's father's health declined, Phillip became more
involved in his father's affairs, such as by driving him to medical appointments. (Trial Tr.
17:1-2). As Phillip's interactions with his father increased, Phillip and his father grew
closer, ostensibly beginning the process of repairing whatever issues had previously
caused his estrangement. (Trial Tr. 16:23-17:2). However, it does not appear that Phillip
provided the same degree of assistance to his parents as John D., who helped his family
with household chores and financial planning. (Trial Tr. 108:14-24; 117:18-118:3).
As for the dwelling itself, Phillip and his parents' living situation blended
aspects of a family household with those of a residential landlord-tenant relationship. On
the one hand, Units 406 and 410 were essentially self-contained apartments with their
While there is some dispute regarding whether Phillip or John D. actually had a key to
their mother's unit, there is no doubt that both sons were free to visit Unit 410 whenever
they liked. (22:9-11; 107:11-14).
own kitchens, bathrooms, and living facilities. (Trial Tr. 62:19-22). Moreover, the laundry
facilities were located in a stand-alone laundry room that was equally accessible to both
units. (Trial Tr. 15: 1-6; 59:2-5). These facts are typical of a commercial landlord-tenant
relationship, not of a family household. On the other hand, Phillip did not sign a lease
agreement or pay rent to his parents. (Trial Tr. 14:3-8). Instead, he simply offset his
expenses by reimbursing his parents for the utility bills attributable to Unit 406. (Trial Tr.
14:13-18; 57:5-10). The Plaintiff's failure to collect rent in excess of what was necessary
to offset his living expenses, coupled with the Plaintiff's permitting Phillip to come and go
between the units as he pleased, indicate something other than a standard commercial
As is evident from the foregoing, whether Phillip was a member of his
parents' household is a close call. Ultimately, the main distinction between this case and
Row and Kepple is that unlike in those cases, Phillip Stavrakis spent decades living as
an independent adult prior to moving into Unit 406. (Trial Tr. 114:18-24). This more
closely mirrors the situation in Van Hoose, where the daughter had been married and
lived in Michigan for several years before moving in across the street from her father. Van
Hoose, 416 So.2d at 1276. Given the lack of a preexisting family household relationship
between Phillip Stavrakis and his parents, Phillip can only be deemed a member of his
parents' household if he took sufficient actions subsequentto arriving at Unit 406 to reestablish a family household relationship with his parents.
Viewed from this perspective, the Defendant's argument that Phillip
Stavrakis was a member of his parents' household falls short. The extent of Phillip's
relationship with his parents appears to have consisted of subsidized housing, (Trial Tr.
14:3-8), regular (but not overly frequent) sharing of meals and socializing, (Trial Tr.
82:19-83:4), and minimal assistance and companionship, such as Phillip's volunteering
to drive his father to medical appointments. (Trial Tr. 16:23-17:2). The same could likely
be said, however, for many American families that reside separately in the same town or
municipality. The fact that an adult child may visit his parents one or two days a week to
share meals and socialize does not transform that family into a household. Nor does the
fact that a parent may provide an adult child with subsidized housing, or that an adult child
may run errands or perform chores for her parent, transform relatives living separately
into a family household.
Clearly, a household and a family are not one in the same.
differently, the policy requires more than a mere familial relationship with a named insured
for a person to constitute an insured under the policy. Rather, to qualify as an insured, a
person must be both a relative of a named insured and a member of that person's
household. See (Doc. No. 45-3, at 33) (defining "insured" as the named insureds and
"residents of [their] household who are ... relatives."). As noted in Row, "the main thread
of a family household is the sharing of companionship and living facilities in a dwelling
unit by members of a household." Row, 474 So.2d at 349. Based on the Court's review
of the evidence presented at trial, there was no sharing of companionship and living
facilities in a dwelling unit in excess of what is typical of a normal American family of
independent adults who live separately. Expanding the definition of the term household
to include independent adult family members who reside in close proximity and share
typical (but by no means extraordinary) familial .bonds would set unwise precedent for
insurers and insureds alike. As a result, the Court is satisfied that under the unique facts
of this case, Phillip Stavrakis was not a member of his parents' household at the time of
the shooting incident.
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that the Plaintiff is directed to submit a proposed form of final judgment
consistent with the terms of this order within 14 days.
It is further ORDERED that the Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE this case and
TERMINATE any pending motions.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers, in Tampa, Florida this 1st day of December,
ZABETH A. KOVAGHEVICH.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE ..
Copies furnished to:
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?