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Arch wins ruling over hotel damages from Hurricane Irma


A federal appeals court ruled in favor of an Arch Capital Group Ltd. unit Tuesday in a dispute with a hotel owner over damages caused by 2017’s Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma allegedly damaged an Orlando, Florida, hotel owned by Des Moines, Iowa-based BP Investment Partners LLC, according to the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Arch Specialty Insurance Co. v. BP Investment Partners Inc.

Under terms of its insurance policy, Arch unit Arch Specialty was required to pay for direct physical loss or damage to the property, the ruling said. BPI sought a total of about $8 million for its alleged damages.

However, an insurance adjuster hired by the insurer saw no evidence that the storm damaged the hotel, although he observed it had been poorly maintained, among other issues that arose. Arch concluded that BPI had sustained no more than $400,000 in damages from the hurricane, and paid only that portion of the claim.

Arch then filed suit in the case in U.S. District Court in Orlando, seeking a declaratory judgment against BPI and asserting a claim under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The court refused to dismiss the FDUTPA claim. The case was then tried before a jury, which concluded that BPI had “intentionally misrepresented or concealed a material fact or circumstance” regarding the hotel or its claim and had “materially breached its post-loss duties.”

The case was appealed to the 11th Circuit. In ruling in the insurer’s favor, among other issues, a three-judge panel held the district court had not erred in denying BPI’s motion for a partial final judgment.

“Because there is already a final judgment in this case, it is impossible for us to give BPI ‘meaningful relief’ on this portion of the appeal,” which is moot and must be dismissed, the ruling said.