Florida Appellate Court Narrows Exception to Four Corners Rule

The general rule for determining whether a duty to defend exists for a particular claim is easily stated. If the allegations against the insured fall within the scope of coverage afforded by a liability policy, then the insurer has a duty to defend its insured. This general rule is commonly referred to as the four corners rule. However, insurers frequently face a dilemma in determining whether they have a duty to defend where the allegations in a tendered suit arguably fall
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Florida’s Statutory Sovereign Immunity Language Inserted Into Any Government Liability Policy Takes Precedence Over the Policy’s Definition of “Occurrence”

In Florida, as in most jurisdictions, government agencies may be subject to liability for tortious acts, with the recovery limit capped by law. A recent decision, State of Florida v. Barnett, explores the recent conflict regarding the limit of recovery against a state agency for an “occurrence” involving multiple claimants. Section 768.28(5), Florida Statutes (2010), states in relevant part as follows: Neither the state nor its agencies or subdivisions shall be liable to pay a claim or a judgment by
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A Primer On Appraisal in Florida First-Party Property Damage Claims

In the wake of Hurricane Irma and other recent natural disasters, Florida courts have weighed in on one of the most important tools for resolution of first-party property damage claims: appraisal. In this post, we will address multiple appraisal issues and how courts have ruled recently on those issues. Failure to Timely Invoke Appraisal May Constitute Waiver In Versailles Sur La Mer Condominium Assoc., Inc. v. Lexington Ins. Co., 2018 WL 3827154 (M.D. Fla. Jul. 24, 2018) the insured, a
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No Attorney’s Fees for Insured in Suit Relating to Selection of an Umpire for Appraisal for Florida First-Party Property Claims

In a recent first-party coverage claim, an insurer invoked its homeowner’s policy’s appraisal provision pre-suit when the parties could not agree on the scope of loss. The appraisal provision required both parties to select an appraiser, who were in turn required to agree mutually upon a neutral umpire for appraisal. The policy’s appraisal provision stated further that in the event the appraisers could not agree upon a neutral umpire, either party could initiate a legal action to request that the
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New Law and a New Trial: Eleventh Circuit Overturns Florida Court Judgment Against GEICO in Bad Faith Lawsuit

On Wednesday, August 19, 2015 the Eleventh Circuit issued a significant ruling that allows evidence to be introduced at trial regarding previous decisions in that litigation, as well as changes in coverage law. In doing so, it vacated a $5 million bad faith judgment against GEICO General Insurance Co. (GEICO) from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The lawsuit arises out of an automobile accident that occurred in 2006. The plaintiff represented the estate of a
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State-Created Insurance Entity Exempt from Florida’s First-Party Bad Faith Statute

In Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Perdido Sun Condominium Ass’n, the Florida Supreme Court was asked to decide “whether the Florida Legislature intended … [for] a state-created entity that provided property insurance to be liable for statutory first-party bad faith claims as an exception to its statutory immunity from suit.” After prevailing in a breach of contract action against Citizens, Perdido Sun sued Citizens for bad faith under Florida’s Section 624.155(1). Citizens sought to dismiss the bad faith complaint based
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Florida Court of Appeals Permits Post-Loss Assignment of Benefits to Third Party

In Accident Cleaners, Inc. v. Universal Insurance Co., 2015 SL 1609973 (Fla. Ct.App. April 10, 2015) the Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District held the assignee of benefits under an insurance policy was not required to have an insurable interest in the insured property at the time of loss. The court further held that so long as the assignor had an insurable interest in the insured property at the time of the loss, such insurable interest is imputed to the
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Florida Court Refuses To Enforce Employment Related Practices Exclusion Against Defamation Claim Under Coverage B

In Khatib v. Old Dominion Insurance Co., 2014 Fla. App. LEXIS 19843 (Fla. DCA 1st Dist. Dec. 5, 2014), the Florida Court of Appeal held that Old Dominion Insurance Company (Old Dominion) did not have a duty to defend its insureds against a defamation claim.  As background, the insureds, directors and officers First Coast Cardiovascular Institute (FCCI), filed suit against Dr. Majdi Aschi for fraud, negligently supplying false information, breach of contract, reformation, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and
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Florida Court Finds Underlying Tort Claimants Are Not Necessary Parties to DJ Action In Priority of Coverage Dispute

The plaintiff, Northern Assurance Company of America, sought a declaration as to the priority of coverage between its policy and that of the defendant, Auto-Owners, with respect to the underlying action.  In the underlying action, Ray Lequerique alleged that he was injured while visiting David Giannone, Inc. (Giannone), a property owned by the Anthony Family Limited Partnership (Anthony) and leased to the Aqua Toy Store, Inc. (Aqua). Aqua Toy Store was insured by the plaintiff Northern Assurance. Giannone  was insured
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Florida and Alabama Governors Join Fight Against Flood Insurance Rate Hikes

The Governors of Florida and Alabama filed an Amicus brief in a lawsuit brought by Mississippi against the federal government over flood insurance rate hikes. Mississippi filed suit just before rate hikes took effect in accordance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.  In 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act into law. This act was adopted to fund the federal government’s flood insurance program which is heavily in debt. It requires
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