A recent Southern District of Florida decision addressed this issue.1

A property in Islamorada, Florida, which was owned by the estate of Raymond K. Hampson, was damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The personal representative for the estate, Timothy R. Hampson (“Hampson”) made a claim for damages under the standard flood insurance policy (“SFIP”) covering the property. When Hampson sued Wright National Flood Insurance Company, a Write Your Own (“WYO”) carrier, for breach of the insurance contract, Hampson also sought an award of attorney’s fees, costs and case expenses under the Equal Justice to Access Act (the “EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412.
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It has been almost eight months since Hurricane Michael devastated the eastern side of the Florida Panhandle. Not surprisingly, many residents and business owners are exhausted. Exhausted in the deepest sense—exhausted from waiting, exhausted from hoping, exhausted from failed promises made by their insurer, which benefited from premiums faithfully paid, only to find out that their insurer has “exhausted” its obligation to them. What is the recourse for the insured who has purchased insurance coverage to protect against a catastrophe such as Hurricane Michael? Will an insured be indemnified under its contract of insurance, including recovery of the costs and expense to pursue the benefits of the policy in court if necessary?
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In a recent decision from a United States District Court, the trial court had to decide whether the insured was owed statutory interest and attorneys’ fees even though the insured did not properly plead for the interest or fees. In Agredano v. State Farm Lloyds, the insured prevailed on their breach of contract claim.1 After the trial, the court had to decide if the insured was allowed to recover statutory interest and attorneys’ fees.
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Back on November 7 of last year (2017), I wrote about an important opinion in the world of property insurance litigation, Joyce v. Federated National Insurance Company,1 where the Florida Supreme Court reaffirmed that you could still obtain a contingency-fee multiplier where justified under Quanstrom and in so doing reversed the Fifth District Court of Appeal finding that such a multiplier should be limited to “rare” and “exceptional” circumstances. Tom Elligett and Amy Farrior represented the Joyces in this landmark case.
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William and Judith Joyce filed a claim with their insurer, Federated National, after suffering water damage to their home. Instead of agreeing to cover the loss, Federated National denied the Joyces’ claim alleging they made material misrepresentations on their insurance application by failing to disclose prior losses they had with their previous carrier.
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