Hi kids, it's another Wednesday and that means we have hit judicial gold, the jackpot, for this is the day that written utterances are slowly released from the concrete bunker by the highway, yes that heart-stopping moment when your life suddenly has meaning -- real meaning -- and all things are immediately right with the world.
Either that, or it's this week's patented 3d DCA Watch:
Gables Insurance v. Seminole Casualty:
Ok, folks. Quick question -- if there is an ambiguity in a written contract as to a material term, like the party to whom certain rights are assigned, and the court explicitly recognizes this ambiguity, do you think you should obtain summary judgment on its meaning anyway?
The county court and the 11th sitting in its appellate capacity do!
But not Judge Wells, who goes way out on a limb to suggest that the law is otherwise:
On this petition for writ of certiorari, we find that the trial court’s conclusion that the initial assignment is ambiguous acknowledges the existence of a fact issue which precludes summary judgment. See, e.g., Birwelco-Montenay, Inc. v. Infilco Degremont, Inc., 827 So. 2d 255, 256 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001) (“Summary judgment is inappropriate where the contract at issue is susceptible of two interpretations”); see also Langford v. Paravant, Inc., 912 So. 2d 359, 360-61 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) (stating that “when content of an agreement is ambiguous . . . the issue of proper interpretation becomes one of fact, precluding summary judgment”). For this reason alone, the summary judgment in Seminole’s favor cannot stand and certiorari should be granted.Weird how summary judgment works in state court, huh?
And Judge Schwartz, specially concurring, has even more mild, non offensive and carefully calibrated thoughts on this topic:
I concur because the subject of the so-called “ambiguity” – whether the name of the assignor-provider, whose actual identity was never in doubt, was on the right place on the form – was utterly meaningless, so that, however resolved, it could not conceivably justify a denial of liability.Wait -- he's not done:
The affirmance of the directly contrary conclusion of the county court granting summary judgment for the insurer on that ground was thus a genuine, even outrageous, miscarriage of justice.Well, I guess you could look at it that way. So that means Judge Schwartz agrees with the insurer that summary judgment should be appropriate here -- but to the plaintiff because there's no true ambiguity regarding the assignment in the first place!
Oh hail, who knows?
It's like what they say about making sausages -- sometimes it's better to just turn away and think about something else.