QBE Insurance Corporation claims its condominium customers commit fraud virtually every time a lawsuit is filed against it for payment of a property insurance claim in Florida. Last week, a federal trial court judgment against QBE was upheld in Vantage View, Inc. v. QBE Ins. Corp., No. 09-12128, 2010 WL 3550030 (11th Cir. September 14, 2010). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found the following:

On appeal, QBE argues that it is entitled to a new trial because the district court abused its discretion in excluding the minutes of a condominium board meeting, which QBE claims were relevant to its defense that the policy had been voided by the submission of a fraudulent claim. QBE also argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because, under its policy, it is liable for damage to the windows and the doors only if Vantage View actually completed all repairs or replacements prior to submitting its claim, which Vantage View did not do.

We have considered the record, the briefs of the parties and the oral argument of counsel, and affirm the judgment. We find no merit in QBE’s contention that the district court erred in excluding the minutes of Vantage View’s special board meeting. The district court’s determinations that the minutes were protected by the attorney-client privilege, which had not been waived, and that the minutes did not suggest fraud to exempt them from the privilege did not amount to an abuse of discretion.

We also reject QBE’s argument that it is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law because Vantage View did not actually repair or replace the windows and doors at issue.

QBE has some of the best insurance defense attorneys in the business representing it in these cases. Otherwise, this business practice of claiming fraud as a defense would be much more problematic and costly. I am certain that next time QBE claims fraud following a drawn out investigation, it will be the subject of intense scrutiny during the subsequent bad faith case.

On Wednesday, I will write about another QBE opinion issued on the same date and from the same three-judge panel as Vantage View. Jeremy Tyler will also be writing on an aspect of that case tomorrow, in our Condominium Insurance Law Blog.

  • Mark Phillips

    Yahoo!!

    Let the revelations begin!!

  • William Berk

    Several pertinent facts are missing from this interesting blog, and the excerpt of the opinion quoted.

    After discharging its Public Adjuster, the insured, now represented by counsel, increased its claim roughly $11 million to $13 million, via a Proof of Loss. It claimed nearly every window and slider in the building was damaged beyond repair, and required replacement.

    New counsel was retained by the insured to correct serious “errors” in the claim (according to counsel’s own testimony). A “revised” claim of roughly $5 million was presented to the jury.

    QBE offered $2 million net. The jury awarded $1 million net.

    Of the $1 million, roughly $900,000 was for windows & sliders that were not repaired. The 11th Circuit held that that because the RCV issue was not tried, and only raised at the conclusion of the evidence, under the unique circumstances of this case it would not reverse the $900,000 for unrepaired damage. Otherwise, based on Buckley Towers, in which the Court explicitly upheld the requirement of repairs as a precedent to RCV recovery, the $13 million claim, and $1 million judgment, would have been reduced to $100,000.

  • Chip Merlin

    Bill,

    Thanks for providing some more of the facts.

    Our firm will commment on the companion case on our Condominium Insurance Blog (http://www.condominiuminsurancelaw.com) in the morning. I will do so on Wednesday morning.

  • Mike Rump

    Mr. Berk

    I certainly would not agree that applying 90% holdback depreciation is justified in any case.

  • SHIRLEY HEFLIN

    Nice to see that Mr. Berk is staying on top of “things.”

    SHIRLEY HEFLIN

  • RACHEL W.

    This is what I have gone through with Bank of America aka Wellsfargo trying to fraudulently foreclose on a home which is currently in the bankrupcy courts. what people don’t know is they are networked with the debt collectors and they do work together to bring you into foreclosure, They overcharged me for three years placing forced placed insurance on the home under the disguised as principle increase. Argued with me over this only to state later they were placing the funds back into escrow, These people are simply criminals. They also tried to excplain to me there was a refund check issued for the amount of overage however, I never received this check and explained to them I would need a copy of the check endorsement and the date of the check. Later in conversation this was stated Oh, I made a mistake this was not issued to you, we credited your account because the escrow was short, They are clearly layering you payments with forced placed insurance. They later stated well the company paid the amount of corporate money therefore they were paid back the money. Well, you still took more in payments than you needed to over years and I that amount came out of my pocket therefore, although you company may have paid it , it came out of my pocket through payments and I want my money back, I am filing suit against Wellsfargo.