If you have been following our blog, you might have read Expert Witnesses Must Remember Three Steps: (1) Qualifications (2) Reliability, and (3) Helpfulness, which discussed the U.S. District Court ruling in Palm Bay Yacht Club Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. QBE Ins. Corp., 10-23685-CIV, 2012 WL 1345317 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 18, 2012). In that case, QBE’s Motion in Limine/Motion for Daubert Hearing was filed to prohibit Paul Norcia from testifing about various aspects of the plaintiff’s Hurricane Wilma claim.
As you will see from the prior post, QBE’s motion was denied and Mr. Norcia will testify next month regarding whether the structural components of the building were damaged by Hurricane Wilma, how much it will cost to repair the property, and whether certain building components should be repaired or replaced.
Paul Norcia is a public insurance adjuster and the owner of Norcia Insurance Consultants. While based out of Minnesota, Norcia Insurance Consultants assist insureds in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but Paul Norcia has an interesting background that was not mentioned in the Court’s recent order. While Mr. Norcia has assisted home and businesses owners for more the 28 years with insurance claims, he spent 24 of those years working at the direction various insurance companies as an independent insurance adjuster. Four years ago, Mr. Norcia stopped working for insurance companies and started helping policyholders as a public insurance adjuster.
In 2003, a terrible hail storm hit Minnesota, and Mr. Norcia was assigned to many of these cases as an independent adjuster for QBE. During his work on the hail claims, Norcia questioned QBE’s instructions on a large number of hail claims. Mr. Norcia explained that more than 90 condominium associations in his territory were damaged by the hail storm but QBE was asked Mr. Norcia to send letters to the insureds instructing them to demonstrate damages worthy of payment. This request went against all of Mr. Norcia’s training and experience as an insurance adjuster. He knew it was the carrier’s job to adjust and investigate the damages but QBE persisted, and Mr. Norcia became a public insurance adjuster. In Palm Bay Yacht Club, QBE challenged its former agent’s methodology and qualifications, even alleging that Mr. Norcia had little to no personal experience with roofs and windows.
The Court recognized that the insurance company should not forget it considered Mr. Norcia was qualified— when he worked for them “Mr. Norcia’s vast experience in insurance matters has qualified him to offer expert opinion testimony about property insurance loss valuation, which includes…whether observed damage was caused by a wind event like a hurricane.” The Court also reminded the parties, “ the methodology employed by Mr. Norcia in determining whether a building component required repair or replacement is exactly the same process by which QBE’s own adjusters evaluate a property damage loss.”