SDV Insights

Commas Give Us Pause


As text message shorthand and quick emails have become the norm, we often forget that small grammar mistakes, like a missing comma, can change the meaning of an entire sentence.  In the world of insurance law, one grammatical error can change the meaning of whole portions of a policy and heavily influence the policyholder’s access to the coverage purchased.  At SDV, we “speak” insurance, paying attention to every last detail… right down to the commas. So, even if they don’t address insurance law directly, we take note when cases come along to remind us of the importance of that focus.

In a recent Ohio case, a defendant successfully appealed her parking violation based on the ordinance’s poor punctuation. The ordinance stated that was illegal to park “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” on a street for more than 24 hours. The defendant argued that her truck was not a “motor vehicle camper,” and therefore the ordinance did not apply to her.

While the Village argued that anyone reading the ordinance would realize what it meant and that it was simply missing a comma, the court of appeals sided with the defendant, noting that “[b]y utilizing rules of grammar and employing the common meaning of terms, ‘motor vehicle camper’ has a clear definition that does not produce an absurd result. If the village desires a different reading, it should amend the ordinance and insert a comma between the phrase ‘motor vehicle’ and the word ‘camper.’”

Read about the Ohio case here






CONTACT US

The email you are sending does not create an attorney-client relationship with SDV. We do not agree to representation until we have performed a check for conflicts of interest and expressly agree to provide services in a particular matter via an engagement letter. The information submitted to us via this website will NOT be treated as confidential or privileged as a lawyer/client communication and our receipt of this information does not prevent us from representing a client related to the subject of your inquiry.

Northeast

35 Nutmeg Drive
Trumbull, CT 06611

203.287.2100

Southeast

851 5th Avenue N
Naples, FL 34102

239.316.7244

West Coast

27368 Via Industria
Temecula, CA 92590

951.365.3145


SDV is based in Connecticut, conveniently located between New York City and Boston, with regional offices in Florida and California to better serve our clients. We're ready to answer your questions and eager to assist you in developing solutions.