U.S. Second District Court of Appeal of Florida Reverses Summary Judgment in Roof Damage Claim

June 6, 2024 / News / Writing and Speaking

On March 29, 2024, in Michel Lassiter v. Citizens Property Ins. Co., Case No. 2D2022 2609, the U.S. Second District Court of Appeal of Florida reversed a summary judgment ruling in favor of Citizens in a breach of contract claim for roof damage, finding that the trial court had inaccurately weighed the evidence by concluding that there were no genuine disputes regarding material facts.

The dispute in Lassiter v. Citizens centered on damage to Lassiter’s home in Largo, Florida, allegedly caused by high winds and hail during a storm in April 2020. Lassiter claimed the storm damaged her roof, leading to leaks and interior water damage. However, Citizens, her insurer at the time, denied the claim, citing policy exclusions for wear and tear and the requirement for an opening created by a covered peril for interior water damage coverage.

Citizens argued that Lassiter failed to prove peril-related damage and an opening in her roof as required by the policy. The insurer supported its motion for summary judgment with an affidavit, inspection reports, and depositions showing no signs of covered damage to the roof but signs of wear and tear, marring and clogged gutters.

In response, Lassiter filed a breach of contract action, contending that the damages were caused by the storm and that Citizens should provide coverage. She submitted an affidavit from an engineer who opined that the property was damaged by high wind and hail, creating openings that allowed water to enter and cause damage. 

The trial court granted Citizens’ motion for summary judgment, finding that Lassiter’s deposition testimony established rain as the cause of the damage, triggering the rain exclusion in the policy. The court also noted the lack of evidence reflecting any opening in the roof or physical loss to support Lassiter’s claim.

The Second District Court of Appeal disagreed with the ruling, finding that the trial court improperly weighed the evidence, particularly the affidavits supporting each party’s position, which created a genuine dispute as to a material fact. Accordingly, the court reversed the summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings.

  • Chicago

    Illinois 60603

    10 South LaSalle Street

    Chicago, Illinois 60603

    T: 312.855.1010 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 312.606.7777 Office Managing Partner: Dennis D. Fitzpatrick

  • New York

    New York 10005

    28 Liberty Street 39th Floor

    New York, New York 10005

    T: 212.805.3900 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 212.805.3939 Office Managing Partner: Carl M. Perri

  • Mission Viejo

    California 92691

    27285 Las Ramblas

    Suite 200

    Mission Viejo, California 92691

    T: 949.260.3100 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 949.260.3190 Office Managing Partner: Ian R. Feldman

  • Florham Park

    New Jersey 07932

    100 Campus Drive

    Florham Park, New Jersey 07932

    T: 973.410.4130 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 973.410.4169 Office Managing Partner: Carl M. Perri

  • Michigan City

    Indiana 46360

    200 Commerce Square

    Michigan City, Indiana 46360

    T: 219.262.6106 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 312.606.7777 Office Managing Partners: Paige M. Neel, Kimbley A. Kearney

  • Milwaukee

    Wisconsin 53202

    250 E. Wisconsin Avenue

    Suite 1800

    Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202

    T: 414.279.5525 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 312.606.7777 Office Managing Partner: James M. Weck

  • Stamford

    Connecticut 06902

    68 Southfield Avenue

    2 Stamford Landing Suite 100

    Stamford, Connecticut 06902

    T: 203.921.0303 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 212.805.3939 Office Managing Partner: Matthew J. Van Dusen

  • Tampa

    Florida 33609

    4830 West Kennedy Boulevard, One Urban Center

    Suite 600

    Tampa, Florida 33609

    T: 813.509.2578 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 312.606.7777 Office Managing Partner: Dennis D. Fitzpatrick Co-Managing Partner: Kelly M. Vogt

  • San Francisco

    California 94111

    100 Pine Street

    Suite 1250

    San Francisco, California 94111

    T: 415.287.2744 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 949.260.3190 Office Managing Partner: Ian R. Feldman

  • Houston

    Texas 77019

    2929 Allen Parkway

    American General Center, Suite 200

    Houston, Texas 77019

    T: 346.229.4612 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 312.606.7777 Office Managing Partner: Ramy P. Elmasri

  • Dallas

    Texas 75201

    325 N. Saint Paul Street

    Suite 3100

    Dallas, Texas 75201

    T: 469.942.8635 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 312.606.7777 Office Managing Partner: Ramy P. Elmasri

  • Boca Raton

    Florida 33434

    7777 Glades Road

    Suite 405

    Boca Raton, Florida 33434

    T: 561.765.5305 TF: 800.826.3505 F: 312.606.7777 Office Managing Partner: Dennis D. Fitzpatrick Co-Managing Partner: Kelly M. Vogt