Insurance/Bad Faith

We work closely with our clients when difficult insurance coverage and bad faith issues arise and our attorneys are well-versed in litigating the issues prevalent in these cases.

We routinely respond on behalf of our clients to Civil Remedies Notices (CRNs) filed by insureds, public adjusters, and assignment holders. Rarely do such notices have merit, but our attorneys respond to each of them addressing the specific facts alleged, as well as pointing out where each is deficient. This is all done in anticipation of being able to present the strongest defense to any subsequent bad faith suit, with the hope that some will be dismissed outright due to technical deficiencies in the CRNs.

Wicker Smith has handled thousands of cases across a comprehensive spectrum of industries—including Aviation, Transportation, Products, Professionals, and Construction. Moreover, we excel at maintaining complex property and casualty insurance defense cases, coverage determinations, and appellate proceedings.

Directed Verdict Affirmed on Appeal in a Subrogation Matter

Attorneys: Brandon M. Nichols, David C. Merrill, Cary W. Capper, Michael R. D’Lugo

This was a general negligence subrogation matter stemming from a blockage in the sewer line, resulting in damage.

Plaintiff contended that our client owed a legal duty to perform preventative maintenance that would have avoided the sewage back-up that caused the property owners’ damage. However, Plaintiff did not have any witness testify as to the existence of such a duty. As a result, the trial court granted our Motion for Directed Verdict.

On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the duty to perform preventative maintenance is a statutory obligation under Florida Statutes § 718.108 and § 718.113. However, because the statutory legal duty was raised for the first time on appeal, the argument was deemed waived, and the directed verdict was affirmed.

Defense Verdict in a Hurricane Irma Claim

Attorneys: William E. Peters, Jr., Wadad Barakat

The case involved a Hurricane Irma claim for damages to a 27-year-old roof. Plaintiff waited two years to report the loss and the Plaintiff’s pre-trial demand was over $300,000. The jury took 15 minutes to return with a defense verdict.

Bad Faith Matter Dismissed With Prejudice

Attorneys: Michael Stone

In this case, Plaintiffs filed a Breach of Contract lawsuit in May of 2021 and accepted a Proposal for Settlement on April 20, 2023, after Section 624.1551, Florida Statutes became effective in December of 2022.

Prior to enactment of Section 624.1551, Florida Statutes, the Florida Supreme Court has consistently held that an action for statutory bad faith is not ripe “until there is a determination of liability and extent of damages owed on the first-party insurance contract. Vest v. Travelers Ins. Co., 753 So. 2d 1270, 1276 (Fla. 2000) (citing Blanchard v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 575 So. 2d 1289, 1291 (Fla. 1991). Accordingly, Plaintiffs thought acceptance of a Proposal for Settlement without any release agreement requiring confidentiality would perfect a bad faith cause of action.

Thus, Plaintiffs accepted a Proposal for Settlement with the intent to file a bad faith lawsuit, and without considering whether or not Section 624.1551, Florida Statutes, would apply. Plaintiffs also attached the Proposal for Settlement to the Complaint.

The Court ruled that if Plaintiffs are relying upon the Proposal for Settlement to determine the extent of liability under the homeowner’s insurance contract, then the cause of action (under prior law) did not accrue until after Section 624.1551, Florida Statutes became effective. Therefore, the Court found Section 624.1551 appropriately precludes the bad faith cause of action and the case was dismissed with prejudice.

Voluntary Dismissal of a Bad Faith Claim

Attorneys: Michael Stone

In this case, Plaintiffs accepted a Proposal for Settlement in the underlying Breach of Contract matter and then immediately went back to court to file a bad faith lawsuit. However, Plaintiffs did not attach the Proposal for Settlement to the Complaint, and never pled the determination of liability and extent of damages.

Here, the matter was not ripe as pled within the four corners of the Complaint, and our client argued the lack of subject matter jurisdiction in its Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiffs agreed to amend the Complaint, although once confronted with the fact that there is no event which occurred prior to the enactment of Section 624.1551, Florida Statutes, that can be attributed to a determination of liability and damages under the homeowner’s insurance contract, Plaintiffs dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice.

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