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The Collaborative Clearinghouse for Lawsuits and Other Claims Against ACE Group Insurance Companies

CARPENTER INVESTMENTS, INC, v. ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY

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Case Number: 
6:14-cv-01698 Search Pacer
ACE Group party(s): 
Opposing Party: 
Carpenter Investments, Inc,
Court Type: 
Federal
US District Court: 
Middle District of Florida
Date Filed: 
Oct 20 2014

COMPLAINT IN ADMIRALTY

Plaintiff CARPENTER INVESTMENTS, INC., for its Complaint against ACE
AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY states on information and belief as follows:
1. This is a case of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. §1333(1) as hereafter more fully appears and is an admiralty or maritime claim
within the meaning of Rule 9(h).
2. Plaintiff CARPENTER INVESTMENTS, INC. [herein "Carpenter"], is a
Texas corporation.
3. Defendant ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY [herein "ACE
AMERICAN"], is a foreign corporation which is an authorized insurer in the State of
Florida and which issues policies of recreational marine insurance in the State of
Florida.
4. Plaintiff CARPENTER is the documented owner of the MA/LARKSPUR,
a 1973 40 foot Hinckley Bermuda sailing vessel bearing U.S. Coast Guard Official No.
547409.
5. At all times pertinent hereto the Plaintiff's vessel was subject to a policy
of recreational marine insurance issued by Defendant ACE AMERICAN. A copy of the
applicable insurance policy is attached hereto as Exhibits 1 & 2.
6. Because the Plaintiff's vessel is a "Hinckley" manufacture, the insurance
issued by Defendant ACE AMERICAN included a special "Hinckley/Little Harbor
Endorsement". See Exhibit!
7. The events giving rise to this controversy took place in Brevard County,
Florida.
8. In June 2013 Plaintiff delivered the Vessel LARKSPUR to Harbortown
Marina on the Canaveral Barge Canal in Merritt Island, Florida, so that the vessel could
be hauled out of the water, a "bottom job" performed on the vessel by Harbortown
Marina, with the vessel then secured in dry storage by Harbortown Marina throughout
the ensuing hurricane season.
9. Upon completion of the first phase of the vessel's "bottom job" involving
the removal of old excess bottom paint, Harbortown Marina proceeded to block the
vessel in their dry storage yard and purportedly secure it for the extended hurricane
season.
10. In October 2013 Plaintiff made arrangements for the second phase and
completion of the "bottom job" by a Harbortown Marina authorized contractor.
11. When Plaintiff arrived at the vessel on October 21, 2013, to check on the
progress of the bottom job (i.e., application of new bottom paint), Plaintiff discovered
that the bottom job was not being properly done and that the vessel had not been
properly blocked by Harbortown Marina in its dry storage yard, as a result of which large
amounts of rain water had accumulated in the vessel since June 2013 with resulting
damage to the vessel and her equipment and contents.
12. Plaintiff promptly reported the loss and damages to Plaintiff's vessel to
both Harbortown Marina and to Defendant ACE AMERICAN.
13. Defendant ACE AMERICAN sent a representative to the vessel to
investigate the loss. That representative then reported in writing on November 12,
2013, to both Plaintiff and to Harbortown Marina that "evidence gathered shows that
Harbortown blocked the vessel incorrectly, as well as never made any follow up
inspections. The blocking attitude resulted in the vessel taking on and accumulating
large amounts of rain water in the bilge spaces over time. Eventually the bilge spaces
overflowed and submerged the cabin soles." Additionally, "the accumulated water
caused damage to the interior soft goods (upholstered bedding), cabinetry, cabin soles,
machinery, and electrical components." Defendant's November 12, 2013, "Notice of
Intent" further advised Harbortown Marina to inform its insurance carriers of a probable
subrogation action to recover the losses that ACE AMERICAN would pay out to Plaintiff
under its policy and as its insured.
14. Because the vessel had sustained a covered loss and the policy carried
a "Hinckley/Little Harbor Endorsement" the vessel was ultimately transported to "a
suitable Hinckley repair facility" for further analysis of the loss and resulting repairs.
15. On December 21, 2013, Plaintiff presented to Defendant ACE
AMERICAN a copy of a detailed claim directed to Harbortown Marina (as suggested
by ACE AMERICAN) which included an itemization of expenses paid out due to the
loss plus an itemization of estimated expenses to be incurred, including a detailed
estimate from The Hinckley Company of Stuart, Florida, which detailed repairs to be
made as a result of the damages to the vessel.
16. Harbortown Marina disclaimed any responsibility for the loss.
17. Plaintiff's formal claim to Defendant ACE AMERICAN under Plaintiff's own
insurance policy was submitted on March 12, 2014, with additional supporting
documentation as requested by Defendant, for a total claim as of March 12, 2014, of
$85,593.42, after application of a $4,500.00 policy deductible, certain depreciation
applicable to the damaged interior soft goods, and a credit for certain bottom paint.
18. On May 29, 2014, Defendant ACE AMERICAN made a payment to
Plaintiff of $33,088.26 on the claim and loss but declined to make any further payment
absent additional documentation and conversion of certain estimates to actual costs.
19. Consequently, the vessel was again delivered to the Hinckley Company
which revisited its earlier estimate and converted it to fixed prices as requested by
Defendant. A revised claim was then submitted to Defendant ACE AMERICAN
establishing that a further payment remained due under the policy of $79,663.22.
20. On September 29, 2014, Defendant ACE AMERICAN issued a letter to
Plaintiff advising that it would pay an additional sum of $5,950.00 on Plaintiff's claim in
conclusion of the claim but would make no further payments.
21. As a result of the foregoing, there remains due and owing to Plaintiff
CARPENTER the further sum under the Defendant's insurance policy of at least
$79,633.22 together with interest thereon, which Plaintiff CARPENTER is entitled to
recover from Defendant ACE AMERICAN.
22. Because of the foregoing, Plaintiff CARPENTER has been forced to incur
the services of the maritime law firm of Patricia K. Olney, P.A., in order to enforce its
rights and protect its interest under the policy of insurance issued to it for the M/V
LARKSPUR and Plaintiff is obligated to pay her reasonable attorney's fees plus costs
and expenses for her services on its behalf.
23. Plaintiff is entitled to recover its reasonable attorney's fees, costs and
expenses against Defendant ACE AMERICAN pursuant to Florida Statute 627.428 and
as a named insured of Defendant who has been compelled to bring suit under its
policy.
24. All conditions precedent to this action have occurred or been waived.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff CARPENTER INVESTMENTS, INC., demands
judgment against Defendant ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY in the sum of
at least $79,663.22 with interest thereon, together with Plaintiff's reasonable attorney's
fees, expenses and costs as well as such other relief to which the Plaintiff may be
entitled under the circumstances presented and as the justice of the cause may require.

The provided text is an excerpt from a document filed in this case. For a full understanding of the case, one should read the complete court file, including the response.

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