Court: Marriott must allow insurer to conduct 'destructive testing' in hurricane damage claim

By Marian Johns | May 21, 2019

South Beach Miami   Photo by User:Ld

MIAMI — South Beach Marriott has lost its legal attempt to prevent its insurance company from conducting "destructive testing" on its hotel property as part of a $16 million insurance claim due to damages from Hurricane Irma.  

According to the May 16 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida filing, the defendant, Zurich American Insurance Company, petitioned the court and was granted its motion to compel destructive testing on the property owned by plaintiff Komar Investments, which does business as South Beach Marriott.

The insurance dispute involves Zurich American's request to have its experts conduct two stages of inspections of the hotel property that included a "single day walkthrough" and then a 10-day inspection that would involve testing and getting samples of stucco, roof and pool tile deck. South Beach Marriott agreed to the walkthrough inspection that was done in February but argues the destructive testing inspections are "unnecessary," "overbroad" and "prejudicial." 

The hotel also argues the testing would cause the property to sustain further damage as well as disrupt its business, the hotel guests and harm the hotel brand's reputation, despite Zurich American's promise to have a contractor on site to make any needed repairs as a result of the sampling and testing. 

In addition, South Beach Marriott states Zurich American's request to take 6-by-12 samples of stucco would "destruct" more than 36 feet of the hotel's exterior and cause the need to repaint the "entire building."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres agreed with Zurich American and concluded that the insurance company demonstrated the testing is "relevant, reasonable and necessary" in order to be able to assess the "nature" and "extent" of the hotel's damage. 

The court granted Zurich American's 10-day inspections and ordered the scheduling of the destructive testing. 

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