Class Action Defense Cases-Grife v. Allstate: Eleventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Class Action Complaint Against Insurer Holding Class Action Claims Fell Within Scope Of Exclusion To Coverage

Jan 14, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

District Court did not Err in Granting Defense Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in Class Action Alleging Breach of Contract Claims Against Insurer Eleventh Circuit Holds

Plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit against his condominium owner’s insurer, Allstate, for breach of contract Grife v. Allstate Floridian Ins. Co., 512 F.3d 1302, 2008 WL 89948, *1 (11th Cir. 2008). The class action complaint alleged his insurance policy obligated Allstate to “pay [plaintiff’s] share of any special assessments charged against the condominium owners by the association” as a result of damage to property collectively owned by the condominium association. Id. The class action alleged that plaintiff’s condominium complex in North Miami Beach, Florida, suffered damage caused by Hurricane Wilma in October 2005, that the condominium association’s master policy covered the damage to the commonly owned property but, because of the substantial deductible of the master policy, plaintiff’s unit was assessed about $1200, that plaintiff tendered a claim to Allstate, and that Allstate denied coverage under an exclusion in the policy. Id. Defense attorneys moved for judgment on the pleadings, which the district court granted, id. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his class action and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

The insurance policies implicated by the class action contained the following exclusion from coverage: “Any reduction or elimination of payments for losses because of any deductible applying to the insurance coverage of the association of building owners collectively is not covered under this protection.” Grife, at *1. In moving for judgment on the class action claims under FRCP Rule 12©, defense attorneys argued that this exclusion applied; the district court agreed with the defense, characterizing the exclusion as the “Master Deductible” clause. Id. (citing Grife v. Allstate Floridian Ins. Co., 493 F.Supp.2d 1249 (S.D.Fla. 2007)). Based on its de novo review of the dismissal of the class action, see id. n.1 (citing Hardy v. Regions Mortgage, Inc., 449 F.3d 1357, 1359 (11th Cir.2006)), the Eleventh Circuit agreed with the “well-reasoned published decision” of the district court, id., at *1. Accordingly, the Circuit Court affirmed the district court order granting judgment on the pleadings. Id., at *2.

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