In yesterday’s decision QBE Insurance Corporation v. Chalfonte Condominium Association Inc., Case No. SC09-441 (Fla. May 31, 2012), the Florida Supreme Court held that insurance companies can break legal obligations and regulations without accountability.
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.
The Southern District Court of Florida recently dismissed a policyholder’s case against QBE and granted a stay of the action in a lawsuit stemming from Hurricane Wilma. Garden-Aire Village South Condo. Assoc., Inc. v. QBE Insurance Corp., No. 10–61985, 2011 WL 1184737 (S.D. Fla. March 31, 2011). The policyholder filed the lawsuit against QBE on October 18, 2010, alleging that Hurricane Wilma damaged its windows and sliding glass doors, and that the policyholder notified QBE of the loss. The policyholder asserted that QBE failed to determine the amount of its loss from Hurricane Wilma and that there was an actual and present need for various declarations by the Court concerning the parties’ rights and obligations under a policy of insurance.
What judges say is contemplated under an insurance policy is not always what adjusters are taught and do in the field. Jeremy Tyler noted in Prevention of Performance with Replacement Cost Value, that a new appellate decision involving QBE rewrites how insurance companies may adjust property losses in Florida. Many will read Buckley Towers Condo., Inc. v. QBE Insurance Corp., No. 09-13247, 2010 WL 3551609 (11th Cir. Sept. 14, 2010), to stand for the proposition that an insurer does not have to pay anything towards replacement costs under a replacement cost policy, when replacement is elected but repairs have not been made.
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:
The anticipation of litigation is the trigger used in Florida to determine when a party to an action can claim a work-product privilege in connection with a documents production.
Just a few weeks ago, the Fort Myers Division of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida handed down its memorandum opinion on the insurer’s motion for summary judgment in Royal Marco Point I Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. QBE Ins. Corp., No. 3:07 CV 16, 2010 WL 2757240 (M.D. Fla. July 13, 2010). Among other things, the insurer, QBE Insurance Corporation, argued that its participation in appraisal and timely payment of the appraisal award precluded an action against it on bad faith.
Florida Supreme Court justices seemed as bewildered as I when policyholder’s counsel explained last Thursday that he was not arguing a "bad faith" case. I will be the first to say that a "bad faith" case is really a lack of "good faith" case since the standard is whether the insurance company breached the obligation of good faith and fair dealing. While I understand what the very accomplished appellate attorney, Bruce Rogow, was trying to argue, I wish his argument had been more simple and to the point because he confused me. I am afraid he may have alienated the Court with his very esoteric argument about a good faith breach of contract issue in a first party insurance situation.
Bill Berk called me yesterday regarding the upcoming Windstorm Conference next week. During our discussion, he mentioned that his partner, Evelyn Mercahant, won a trial for QBE against a condominium association represented by a very good trial attorney, Daniel Rosenbaum. The Association was seeking millions, but the jury awarded zero.
QBE Insurance Company is becoming quite prevalent in the news and legal case decisions in Florida. While reviewing other blogs, I came across Dennis Wall’s two blogs, Insurance Claims Issues and Insurance Claims Bad Faith, to which I suggest that many readers of my blog subscribe. While my feeling is that much of what he writes is a viewpoint of insurance that slightly favors excuses for denials and delay of claims, it is an excellent source worthy of reflection. His recent post, Collateral Source Rule Held No Bar to "Other Insurance" Policy Evidence, helps demonstrate both points.