The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled this week that a tree-clearing business is entitled to coverage from Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Company for an underlying suit brought by a driver who was injured when a cut tree limb crashed through her windshield on I-75 northbound around mile marker 294 in Bartow County.
On July 20th, 2018, workers were cutting trees along the side of the interstate when a limb struck the windshield of Courtney Ford and pierced the vehicle, resulting in injuries. Brown’s Clearing did not have employees cutting trees, but it had hired S&S Diesel as a subcontractor to perform those services. No one from S&S told anyone from Brown’s Clearing about that accident.
Six months later, Ford and her husband sued, alleging negligence.
Frankenmuth Mutual argued that they were not on the hook because Brown’s Clearing knew about the accident three months before they took action, Brown’s Clearing failed to notify them as soon as practicable as stated in the policy, and Brown’s Clearing failed to give them written notice as it did not forward the summons and legal papers.
Frankenmuth sought to reverse the district court’s determination that Brown’s Clearing is entitled to coverage under its policy. The Court of Appeals ruled that the district court did not err in finding that Brown’s Clearing did not violate any provisions of the contract and was thus entitled to coverage under that policy with Frankenmuth.