Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals held on Wednesday that a general liability policy’s absolute employer’s liability provision did not preclude coverage for injuries sustained by an employee at a work event located on the property of an additional insured because of the policy’s separation of insureds provision. In Taylor v. Admiral Insurance Co., No. 3D14-720 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb. 10, 2016), Taylor, as assignee of Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Villa Vizcaya and Miami-Dade County (collectively “Assignors”), appealed an award of summary judgment in favor of Admiral Insurance Co. (“Admiral”) on her claims of breach of contract and common law and statutory bad faith. Admiral cross-appealed the trial court’s finding that the Assignors are additional insureds under the policy.
In the underlying action, Taylor sued the county and the Vizcaya entities in connection with injuries she sustained while attending a private event at Villa Vizcaya hosted by her employer, Hello Florida. Admiral insured Hello Florida under a general liability policy that also provided additional insured coverage to the Assignors. The county requested a defense and indemnity from Admiral, but Admiral declined, alleging that “none of the parties named in the litigation are insureds under the policy.” Taylor, Villa Vizcaya and the county thereafter entered into a Coblentz agreement (1) assigning to Taylor any causes of action the assignors had against the non-defending insurer, Admiral; (2) paying Taylor $25,000; and 3) agreeing to a $550,000 consent judgment.
After the hearing, the trial court concluded that Villa Vizcaya and the county were additional insured under the policy, and the Third DCA affirmed. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s finding that the absolute employer’s liability provision excluded coverage. While the absolute employer’s liability provision excludes coverage for bodily injury to “any employee” of “any insured,” the court explained that provision would only exclude coverage if Taylor brought her claim against Hello Florida. The separation of insureds provision, however, required that the insurance apply “[s]eparately to each insured against who claim is made or ‘suit’ is brought.” Thus, reading these provisions together, because Taylor was an employee of neither Villa Vizcaya nor the county, the absolute employer’s liability exclusion does not apply.
In reversing summary judgment for Admiral and remanding with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Taylor, the court quoted the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Evanston Ins. Co. v. Design Build Interamerican, Inc., and that court’s analysis of Florida law therein. 569 Fed. Appx. 739 (11th Cir. 2014). “Essentially, the exclusion’s use of the term ‘any insured’ when read in conjunction with the severability clause creates a class of insureds who are excluded from coverage, i.e. employers of the injured claimant. Accordingly, as to other insureds who are not in the class of excludable insureds, but against whom a claim could be asserted, i.e. non-employers of the injured claimant, coverage is not precluded.”