Consent Judgments are not Excess Judgments: The Eleventh Circuit Emphasizes the Excess Judgment Rule in Context of Bad Faith

As a general rule, Florida law imposes a duty of good faith on insurers to defend claims against insureds and to settle those claims where a reasonably prudent person, faced with the prospect of paying the total recovery, would do so. An insured may, rightly or wrongly, claim an insurer’s conduct in handling a claim falls short of that standard of care. But a claim for bad faith will not accrue until the alleged claims handling results in liability that
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Eleventh Circuit Holds that Referencing Sealed Documents is Not Proper Notice

The Eleventh Circuit upheld a win for the insurer under a claims-made-and-reported policy in Crowley Mar. Corp. v. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, No. 18-10953, 2019 WL 3294003 (11th Cir. July 23, 2019), finding that the insured did not provide timely notice. In so holding, the court rejected the insured’s argument that it provided timely notice by sending a letter to the insurer referencing an affidavit which the insured claimed alleged wrongful conduct against the insured, but was sealed, preventing the insurer from confirming the insured’s claim for
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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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Insurer Not Liable For Excess Judgment Where Alleged Bad Faith Did Not Cause the Judgment

In Messinese v. USAA Casualty Insurance Company, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 13519 (11th Cir. Aug. 4, 2015), the insured struck the plaintiff, Mr. Messinese, while driving intoxicated. Mr. Messinese sustained serious injuries including paralysis and brain damage. The insured had an auto policy with USAA with limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. The insured also had a homeowner’s policy with USAA, but it excluded coverage for injuries arising out of the use of an automobile. USAA immediately
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Eleventh Circuit: Failure to Give Notice of Time Limit to File Action Does Not Render Contractual Limitations Period Unenforceable

In Wilson v. Standard Ins. Co. (U.S. Ct. Apps., 11th Cir.) the claimant filed her lawsuit claiming long term disability benefits thirty-four months after the three-year contractual limitations period. The claimant argued that equitable tolling should apply because the insurer’s denial letter did not give notice of the time limit and therefore was in violation of the ERISA regulations. The Eleventh Circuit found that the “claims procedure” regulation, 29 CFR 2560.503-1(g)(1)(iv), clearly required notice of the administrative review procedures and those
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Eleventh Circuit Limits Court’s Consideration of Motion to Dismiss To the Complaint

In Twin City Fire Insurance Co. v. Hartman, Simons & Wood, LLP, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6092 (11th Cir. Apr. 15, 2015), the U.S Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed a lower court ruling and held that a professional liability insurer was not barred from recovering some, or all, of a $10 million settlement it paid on behalf of its insured due to the affirmative defenses of waiver and voluntary payment. Twin City Fire Insurance Company (Twin City)
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Timing is Key in Determining Primary/Excess Obligations for Claims against Multiple Insureds

A recent Eleventh Circuit decision warns of the dangers in handling claims against multiple insureds. In Nova Casualty Co. v. OneBeacon America Insurance Co., (U.S. Ct. Apps., 11th Cir., Mar. 17, 2015) the district court for the Southern District of Florida granted summary judgment in favor of the primary insurer, finding that although it had breached its duty to defend and indemnify an additional insured in the underlying action, the excess insurer was not entitled to damages because the primary
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Structural Damage Doesn’t Mean Any Damage to Structure

In Hegel v. First Liberty Insurance Corp., No. 14-10549, 2015 WL 821146 (11th Cir. Feb. 27, 2015), the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the policyholder, finding that “structural damage” does not mean any “damage to the structure.” The coverage dispute arose when the insurer First Liberty Insurance Corp. (“First Liberty”) denied the policyholders’ claim for a “sinkhole loss” which their homeowner’s insurance policy defined as “structural damage to the building, including the foundation, caused
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Employee Exclusion Applies to “Statutory Employees” Even if Not Technically Employed by Additional Insured

The Eleventh Circuit recently held that a standard employee exclusion in a liability policy bars coverage to an additional insured where the injured claimant is a “statutory employee” of the additional insured for purposes of workers’ compensation law, even if the injured claimant is not technically employed by the additional insured. The estate of an employee of a third-tier subcontractor on a construction project sued the project’s general contractor after the employee fell at the construction site and died as
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