Dennis Wall‘s weekend post, Florida Civil Remedy Notice Insurer Violation Holding: "Sufficiently Specific" Requirement, raises an important issue concerning bad faith cases in Florida. While the Florida Supreme Court ponders common law obligations of good faith in a first party context, as discussed in A Confusing Oral Argument in QBE vs. Chalfonte Baffles the Florida Supreme Court Regarding First Party Bad Faith, a raging legal battle ensues in many statutory bad faith actions because insurance companies complain that civil remedy notice of violation is not sufficient.
Wall’s to the point post noted:
In a recent decision, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal addressed the mandatory requirement that a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation is a condition precedent and must be "sufficiently specific" to comply with Florida’s Bad Faith Statute, Section 624.155:
We reverse the final summary judgment in favor of the appellee on the appellant’s bad faith claim only, and remand to the circuit court for the entry of a final judgment dismissing the bad faith claim without prejudice for failing to file a sufficiently specific civil remedy notice complying with section 624.155(3)(a), Florida Statutes (2004).
Fenderson v. United Automobile Insurance Co., Download Fenderson v. United Automobile Insurance Co. (Fla. 4th DCA Case No. 4D08.2894, Opinion Filed March 31, 2010; Rehearing Denied, Clarification Granted, Opinion Substituted) also published as 31 So. 3d 915 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).
The completion of forms is becoming problematic for policyholders. The Department of Financial Services usually approves the forms, and when issues arise, the insurers always complain that they cannot figure out what they have done wrong. Policyholders do not have the benefit of the claims file, discovery regarding the internal claims management’s activities and motives, or an explanation of all the reasons why the claim is not paid in full. In Florida, the policyholder usually does not obtain this information until a bad faith lawsuit is well into discovery. The policyholder merely knows that the claim has not been timely or fully paid when completing the civil remedy notice.
For those of us who are fans of Joseph Heller’s, Catch-22, the current "catch" is apparent. The policyholder is required by the insurer to list everything that the insurance company has done which gives rise to the civil remedy notice. Most would think the insurer already has this information. The policyholder, on the other hand, is without the ability to know all the necessary facts at the time of filing the civil remedy notice. Still, the judges are accepting the insurers’ arguments and requiring the policyholder to list the acts giving rise to the civil remedy notice before bringing the bad faith action where all those wrongdoings will first be discovered.
Make time for this excerpt of a classic movie.
If not, here is the portion of the book explaining the "catch:"
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
If you need help completing a civil remedy notice or want to know what we are doing in reaction to the current legal trend, please call or email us. We will try to give some sanity to the current situation.