Shelithea Hallums and Samuel Castillo v. Infinity Insurance Company and Infinity Auto Insurance Company, Case No.: 16-24507-CIV-Moreno, U.S Dist. Ct. for the Southern District of Florida
Successfully obtained summary judgment for Infinity Insurance Company and Infinity Auto Insurance Company in putative class action lawsuit alleging that Infinity’s Lessor Liability Endorsement was illusory and did not provide any valuable coverage. Plaintiffs argued that the Graves Amendment, 49 U.S.C. § 30106, foreclosed any possibility of lessor liability. Plaintiffs pleaded claims for declaratory judgment, unjust enrichment, fraudulent concealment, and negligent omission. The case involved allegations that, under the Lessor Liability Endorsement, the damages that a lessor becomes legally obligated to pay can only stem from an injury for which the insured is also legally liable. Plaintiffs argued that this liability fell within the definition of “vicarious liability” that was disallowed by the Graves Amendment. At various stages of the litigation, Infinity challenged whether plaintiffs had Article III standing and argued that the endorsement was not illusory because it provided coverage for lessors in many different situations. Infinity also maintained that plaintiffs’ interpretation of the endorsement was contrary to various rules governing the interpretation of insurance policies under Florida law, as well as that, regardless of plaintiffs’ interpretation, Infinity still had an obligation to defend the lessors, even against claims barred by the Graves Amendment. After extensive briefing and a hearing on summary judgment and class certification issues, the court granted Infinity’s motion for summary judgment and entered a final judgment in favor of Infinity and against the plaintiffs. The court held that the endorsement was not illusory because plaintiffs’ interpretation would render the Graves Amendment’s savings clause a nullity, and, regardless, Infinity still owes a duty to defend the lessor and raise the Graves Amendment as an affirmative defense. Bradley’s work on the matter included collaboration with local counsel Raoul Cantero and Ramon Abadin. The case involved extensive analysis of insurance policy interpretation and standing issues, as well as extensive analysis of different comparative fault statutes nationwide.