Friday, August 21, 2009

"Whether An Ambiguity Exists In The Language Of A Contract Is A Question Of Law To Be Decided By The Court"

In Skopelos Seafood & Steak Restaurant, Inc. v. Estate of Paul Gus Silivos (1D08-5458), the First District reversed the trial court's entry of summary judgment because there was an ambiguity in the contract at issue. The court stated:

At issue is the parties’ intent when they used the language in paragraph 24 regarding the appraisal method. Ordinarily, "in the absence of some ambiguity, the intent of the parties to a written contract must be ascertained from the words used in the contract, without resort to extrinsic evidence." Lee v. Montgomery, 624 So. 2d 850, 851 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993) (citation omitted). Further, whether an ambiguity exists in the language of a contract is a question of law to be decided by the court. Wheeler v. Wheeler, Erwin & Fountain, P.A., 964 So. 2d 745, 749 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007) (citation omitted); Centennial Mortgage, Inc. v. SG/SC, Ltd., 772 So. 2d 564, 565-66 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (citation omitted). Accordingly, our standard of review is de novo. Centennial Mortgage, 772 So. 2d at 566.


To do so was improper because the ambiguity renders the parties’ intent a question of fact that must be resolved by the trier of fact. Id. (citation omitted). See also Wagner v. Wagner, 885 So. 2d 488, 492 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004) (citation omitted).


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