Jorge L. Cruz-Bustillo Prevails in Third District Court of Appeal (Miami-Dade)


Chartwell partner Jorge Cruz-Bustillo recently won a major victory for client Universal North America Insurance Co. (“Universal”) in the Third District Court of Appeal (Miami-Dade). On January 25, 2023, the Third District Court of Appeal issued a Per Curiam decision affirming the trial court’s entry of a Summary Final Judgment Order in favor of Universal. The trial court had granted summary judgment based on the Plaintiff’s failure to notify Universal of a “Change-in-Use” of the Property as was required by the policy. The Insureds, owners of Miami Beach penthouse apartment, provided notice one week after Hurricane Irma of damage caused by the storm.  Universal found coverage. The Insureds filed suit demanding policy limits. While preparing Universal’s initial report, Jorge conducted an internet search and found that the Insureds had been renting out their penthouse apartment via Airbnb during the six months prior to Hurricane Irma.  The Airbnb website contained customer testimonials. The Insureds admitted to the rentals in deposition. The policy contained the following provision: “If we have not been notified by you within 60 days of any change of . . . use or occupancy of the ‘residence premises,’ any loss occurring from the 61st day after such change to the date proper notice is given will be excluded from coverage.” The Insureds never provided notice to Universal that they were renting out the property via Airbnb. The Court held that the failure to notify Universal of this “Change-in-Use” acted as a complete bar to recovery.

Congratulations, Jorge!