Luther, Collier, Hodges & Cash, LLP – Attorneys at Law

Florida – Uninsured Motorist Coverage Not Provided to Plaintiff Injured in Mobile Gym

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Geico against the plaintiff. Plaintiff Natalie Deutsch trained for several years with Garrett Nordell. Nordell owned and operated Mobile Fitness Centers of America out of the back of an Isuzu truck. Nordell would drive to a client’s location and conduct workouts in the back of the truck. The “gym” was equipped with exercise machines and equipment, some which were bolted to the floor of the truck. The gym was powered by a generator or plugged into the client’s electricity. In this case, the gym was plugged into the plaintiff’s electricity.

Plaintiff was injured during training and sued Nordell and Mobile Fitness Centers. Those suits were settled and plaintiff then sued Geico for uninsured motorist coverage under her policy. The relevant language in the policy providing coverage states Geico will pay for bodily injury in which the insured is entitled to recover from the owner or operator of “an uninsured auto arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the auto.”  The term “uninsured auto,” however, does not include “a land motor vehicle… located for use as a residence or premises ….” The trial court found the policy clearly and unambiguously defined what an uninsured auto is and is not and the policy excluded coverage in this case.

On appeal the 4th DCA noted the term “premises” was not defined in the policy and held when a term is not defined in an insurance policy it should be given its plain and ordinary meaning, and courts may look to legal and non-legal dictionary definitions to determine such meaning. Here the court looked at both the legal and non-legal definition of premises and agreed that a truck is not a house, building or a tract of land. However, the issue was not whether the truck was real estate but whether the truck was “located for use as a …premises.” The evidence was Mobile Fitness Centers did not have a brick and mortar office or gym, equipment was fastened to the truck, and the “gym” was powered by plugging into plaintiff’s residence. As such the clients worked out only when the mobile gym was stationary, parked and connected to a power source. When used as a gym the truck was “located for use as a “building”. Since the truck was being used as a “premises” when the negligence occurred it was not an uninsured auto under the policy.

Natalie S. Deutsch v. Geico General Insurance Company. (Appeal from Palm Beach County Circuit Court: 4D18-2714)


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