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The Banta family

Facts: The Banta family controlled a complex network of companies. One family company owned three apart- ment complexes in Florida. A different family business, Banta Properties, managed these three complexes in return for 4 percent of the gross income. Properties bought $11 million in property insurance on the three complexes from Arch Specialty Insurance. Two months later, Hurri- cane Wilma badly damaged all three. As a result of the hurricane damage, the apartments lost $39,000 in rents. Properties’s share of those rents was $1,600. It filed an insurance claim for $6.1 million, which was the cost to repair the damage that Wilma had caused to the apartments. Arch refused to pay, claiming that Proper- ties had no insurable interest in the complexes because it did not own them. Florida law defines an insurable interest as a “substan- tial economic interest” in keeping the property “free from loss, destruction, or pecuniary damage or impairment.” You Be the Judge: Did Properties have an insurable interest in the three apartment complexes? Argument for Properties: Yes, Properties meets the Florida definition of insurable interest because it had “a substantial economic interest” in keeping the property free from damage. If the properties were out of commission, Properties lost substantial management fees. Also, Properties paid premiums on the full value of the apartments. It is only fair for it to receive what it paid for. This situation is different from, say, fire insurance, where the insured may be tempted to burn down a building. No one can cause a hurricane, thus Properties had no adverse incentives. Arch is just being a poor loser—it was unlucky and is trying to avoid paying what it ow

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You Be the Judge 7: Banta Properties v. Arch Specialty Insurance

Read the “You Be the Judge” on p. 596 of the text. It is the case of Banta Properties v. Arch Specialty Insurance.

Review the facts, and the arguments of each party in the case.

Discuss:

1. the main issue(s) in the case (don’t just reiterate the facts; instead consider what legal question needs to be decided); and

2. as the judge, decide for one party or the other. State your reasoning. Try to go beyond reiterating the argument given in the text. Also, don’t rely on your instinct. Apply the law.

Note that there are two issues in this case. (1) Should there be any recovery and why? (2) If there is to be a recovery, what amount should be recovered?)

 

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