U.S. court dismisses hurricane damage claim from Naples dental practice

By Marian Johns | May 3, 2019

FORT MYERS — A federal court has dismissed a property damage claim from a Naples dental practice and ordered a deadline for further proceedings on another damage claim that includes losses for "business interruption" due to power outages from Hurricane Irma. 

According to the April 9 U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Fort Myers Division filing, defendant Dr. H. Anton Richardt, doing business as International Institute For Cosmetic Dentistry, petitioned the court for a motion to dismiss a first amended complaint for declaratory relief. Plaintiff Landmark American Insurance Company, filed an opposition to the motion. 

The case involves Richardt's insurance claim filed with Landmark for damages his dental practice sustained during Hurricane Irma in September 2017.  The claim included property damages that resulted from the hurricane as well as damages for "business interruption losses" of more than $96,000.  

After Landmark's engineering consultant inspected the dental practice property, he reported he found "no storm-related openings on the roof" and that much of the damage "was caused by exposure over a long period of time." He also concluded the cracked tiles on the roof were due to "thermal movement and footfall, and were not caused by wind uplift" and that "exposed underlayment in the valleys of the roof were deteriorated, which may have resulted in water intrusion, but was not storm damage." 

Landmark's adjusting company then told Richardt his property damage total resulting from Hurricane Irma amounted to $12,984.15 with no payment due because of his $65,000 policy deductible. Landmark also stated Richardt's policy did not cover a "business interruption claim" and because of a "policy exclusion, "roof damage from deterioration" is also not covered.  Landmark also claimed that since the business interruption was caused by an "off-site power outage," that claim was also excluded. 

Richardt argues his losses are covered under his policy and after an adjusting service estimated the cost to repair/replace the dental practice roof to be $596,875.04, Richardt submitted a "proof of loss" that included the business interruption losses which were all denied by Landmark. 

Landmark argues Richardt may "not seek declaratory relief on to the property damage component of the claim" and stated  Richart's complaint is based on the denial of the business interruption claim, which is an issue for the court, and the dispute over the amount of damages was an issue for an appraiser.

U.S. District Court Judge John Steele concluded Richardt's first amended complaint for declaratory relief pertaining to property damage is dismissed and ordered Richardt to file an amended order that included the business interruption damages section not effected by the dismissal within 14 days. 

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