GA Federal Court Holds That Jury, Not Judge, Generally Must Decide Whether Notice Was Given “As Soon as Practicable” Under First-Party Property Damage Policies

Policy on ripped paper

Who should determine whether the insured complied with this requirement: the judge or the jury?

November 1, 2021
Edward M. Koch & Lynndon K. Groff - White and Williams

Insurance policies covering first-party property damage often require insureds to notify insurers of a loss “as soon as practicable.” Where an insured may or may not have given notice “as soon as practicable,” the issue arises as to who should determine whether the insured complied with this requirement: the judge or the jury?

On October 6, 2021, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia addressed this issue in Vintage Hospitality Group LLC v. National Trust Insurance Company, Case No. 3:20-cv-90-CDL, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192651 (M.D. Ga. Oct. 6, 2021). In Vintage Hospitality, a July 2018 hailstorm damaged the roof of a hotel owned by the policyholder. The policyholder did not discover leaks from the hotel roof until two months later, in September 2018. The policyholder, not realizing that the hailstorm had caused the leaks, unsuccessfully attempted to repair the leaks. Eventually, in February 2020—19 months after the hailstorm and 17 months after the policyholder discovered the leaks—the policyholder hired a construction company to evaluate the roof. It was not until then that the policyholder learned that the hotel had sustained hail damage from the July 2018 storm. The policyholder notified its July 2018 first-party property damage insurer a few days later.

Reprinted courtesy of Edward M. Koch, White and Williams and Lynndon K. Groff, White and Williams
Mr. Koch may be contacted at koche@whiteandwilliams.com
Mr. Groff may be contacted at groffl@whiteandwilliams.com



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