Attorneys’ fees are often sought by insureds in the course of litigation for insurance claims. However, they are not guaranteed and are not always granted. In a recent ruling in Brown v. Wright National Flood Insurance Company,1 the court dismissed the insured’s claim for attorneys’ fees.
In Brown, the plaintiff, James Shawn Brown (“Mr. Brown”), brought suit for breach of contract of his standard flood insurance policy against his insurance company, (“Wright”), a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program, after he suffered flood damages as a result of Hurricane Irma.
In addition to damages caused by the flood, Mr. Brown also sought attorneys’ fees and costs under Florida Statute §627.428. Wright moved to dismiss the claim for attorneys’ fees and costs.
The court ruled in Wright’s favor, holding that since standard flood insurance policies are governed by federal law, a claim for attorneys’ fees and costs under state law fails since it is preempted by federal law. Thus, the district court dismissed the case with prejudice.
Other courts have ruled similarly, holding that federal law governs entitlement to attorneys’ fees instead of state law, since the National Flood Insurance Program is a product of the federal government.
1 Brown v. Wright National Flood Ins. Co., No. 18-cv-10034 (S.D. Fla. July 13, 2018).