Kansas R. Gooden and Kevin Franz recently prevailed on appeal on behalf of their insurance company client in a case of first impression. The case concerned application of the “racing exclusion” in a personal automobile insurance policy at an event called Track Night in America. Track Night in America is a high-performance driving event organized by the Sports Car Club of America to allow racing enthusiasts to drive their personal autos on racetracks in a recreational and educational environment. There is no speed limit and participants often reach speeds in excess of 120 mph. Participants are required to sign a waiver and wear approved helmets during the event.
While participating in Track Night in America at Palm Beach International Raceway, the Plaintiff crashed his Corvette while coming out of a turn on the racetrack. Plaintiff made a claim to his insurance company for collision benefits. The insurance company denied coverage based upon the racing exclusion. The exclusion precluded collision coverage for any: “Loss arising out of any prearranged or organized racing or speed contest, including practice or training on any track or course whether on public roadways or private property, or in preparation for any contest of this type.”
Plaintiff filed suit against the carrier for breach of contract. The carrier filed a counter-claim for declaratory judgment seeking a declaration that the policy did not provide coverage for this loss. Both the carrier and the Plaintiff filed cross motions for summary judgment. The trial court ruled in favor of the carrier and found that the racing exclusion precluded coverage.
The Plaintiff appealed to the Second District Court of Appeal arguing that the loss did not fall within the racing exclusion. He focused on his personal intent that he did not intend to race and that he was not preparing for a race. On behalf of the carrier, the firm argued that the exclusion did not contain an intent element, and therefore, it would be error for the Court to rewrite the exclusion to include one. The Second District agreed and issued a per curiam affirmance decision.
Kansas Gooden is a Board Certified Appellate Specialist and serves as the firm’s appellate practice group leader. She has extensive experience handling all types of civil appellate proceedings, including extraordinary writs and plenary appeals, in state and federal courts. She also provides trial and litigation support to attorneys throughout the state. Kansas is highly involved in the state and local bar associations and has served in many leadership roles. She currently is the Chair of the FDLA’s Amicus Committee and serves on the Board of Directors for the organization. Kansas is a frequent lecturer and travels the state presenting seminars and presentations on various topics to both attorneys and adjusters.
Kevin Franz is a senior associate in the appellate practice group. His practice focuses on insurance defense with an emphasis on litigation support and appeals. Kevin has received the Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating. He has handled appellate proceedings in all five District Courts of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.