Read Property Group LLC. v. Hamilton Insurance Co.

United States District Court, Eastern District New York (2018)

This was a dispute over a Protective Safeguard Endorsement, requiring that the insured “maintain” heat of not less than 50 degrees in the building. Of course, certain pipes froze and the insurer invoked the Endorsement to deny coverage. The insured produced evidence from its property manager that he periodically visited the building prior to the loss date and always found heat to have been maintained. The court, commencing its discussion, cited dictionary definitions of “maintain”, generally defining the term as “to keep or keep up”. The defendant argued that, obviously, heat was not “maintained” because the pipes froze, and the insured, to the contrary, argued that the court should read into the plain language of the Endorsement a “reasonable care [to maintain heat]” standard. The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument, stating that it was plain under the policy that “the existence of a temperature at or above 50 degrees, not the insured’s efforts or attempts to maintain the heat, was the issue, and granted summary judgment to the insurer. The term “maintain”, the court concluded, was not ambiguous.

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