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Court of Appeals of Georgia, Fourth Division
November 8, 2002, Decided
[*304] [**378] ELLINGTON, Judge.
Sorema North American Reinsurance Company d/b/a Fulcrum Insurance Company ("Fulcrum") appeals from a superior court order granting summary judgment to Ronald J. Johnson. The superior court concluded that Fulcrum was liable under a policy of insurance for vandalism damage to a vacant building Johnson purchased from Fulcrum's insured, Emergent Financial Corporation ("Emergent"). Fulcrum, however, contends that it is entitled to summary judgment and that the trial court found coverage only by misconstruing the policy's vacancy exclusion. We agree and reverse.
] Summary judgment is appropriate under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-56 "when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Dover v. Mathis, 249 Ga. App. 753 (549 S.E.2d 541) (2001). We apply a de novo standard of appellate review and "view the evidence, and all reasonable conclusions and inferences drawn from it, in the light [***2] most favorable to the nonmovant." (Footnote omitted.) Id. See Lau's Corp. v. Haskins, 261 Ga. 491 [*305] (405 S.E.2d 474) (1991). Viewed in this light, the record reveals the following undisputed facts.
On July 1, 1998, Fulcrum issued a policy of insurance to Emergent. The policy covered a building Emergent acquired through foreclosure from Frost Foods, Inc., a meat packing business. Frost Foods ceased operating sometime before the foreclosure, but left inventory and equipment in the building. Upon acquiring the property, Emergent began selling the inventory and marketing the building for sale. Some of Emergent's liquidating and marketing activities initially took place in the building; however, it is undisputed that no Emergent employee or agent worked inside or visited the building after the month of August 1998.
In September 1998, Johnson contracted to buy the building "as is" from Emergent. The sale closed on November 12, 1998. The next day, Johnson discovered the building had been damaged by vandals. Johnson reported the vandalism to Emergent, and Emergent filed a proof of loss with Fulcrum. Emergent reported the date of loss as November 13, 1998. Fulcrum [***3] denied the claim, stating the loss was not covered because the building had been vacant for more than 60 days prior to the loss.
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258 Ga. App. 304 *; 574 S.E.2d 377 **; 2002 Ga. App. LEXIS 1436 ***; 2002 Fulton County D. Rep. 3370
SOREMA NORTH AMERICAN REINSURANCE CO. d/b/a FULCRUM INSURANCE CO. v. RONALD J. JOHNSON.
Subsequent History: [***1] Certiorari Applied For.
Writ of certiorari denied Johnson v. Sorema N. Am. Reinsurance Co., 2003 Ga. LEXIS 240 (Ga., Feb. 24, 2003)
Prior History: Action on policy. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Fryer, Senior Judge.
Disposition: Judgment reversed.
vacant, vacancy, summary judgment, insured, insurance policy, customary, vandalism
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, General Overview, Insurance Law, Property Insurance, Coverage, Exclusions, Claim, Contract & Practice Issues, Policy Interpretation, Ordinary & Usual Meanings, Ambiguous Terms, Unambiguous Terms, Plain Language, Contracts Law, Contract Interpretation