In addition to trials, STRUBLE, P.A. also handles appeals and has several reported decisions. STRUBLE, P.A. handled several Oral Arguments each year in Florida’s District Courts of Appeal.  The following are examples of STRUBLE, P.A.’s appeals.

REVERSAL OBTAINED IN BAD FAITH CASE

The Fifth District Court of Appeal revered a jury verdict entered after trial on a first party bad-faith claim.  A copy of the opinion can be accessed here.  The homeowner appealed the verdict, asserting that the trial court erred by failing to give a requested instruction on the claim that FedNat violated Fla. Stat. 626.9541(1)(i)3 through acts such as failing to adopt and implement standards for the proper investigation of claims, misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions relating to coverages at issue, and denying claims without conducting reasonable investigations based upon available information.  Cooper v. Federated Nat’l Ins. Co., 5D18-2585, 2019 WL 6794250, at *1 (Fla. 5th DCA Dec. 13, 2019).  The homeowner submitted the following proposed instruction which the trial court refused to issue:

Bad faith on the part of an insurance company also includes violating Fla. Stat. § 626.9541 by committing any of the following acts:

Failing to adopt and implement standards for the proper investigation of the claim; misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions relating to coverages at issue; failing to acknowledge and act promptly upon communications with respect to the claim; denying the claim without conducting reasonable investigations based upon available information; failing to promptly provide a reasonable explanation in writing to the insured of the basis in the insurance policy, in relation to the facts or applicable law, for denial of a claim or for the offer of a compromise settlement; failing to promptly notify the insured of any additional information necessary for the processing of a claim; failing to clearly explain the nature of the requested information and the reasons why such information is necessary. Id. at *2.

The Fifth District found “that it is entirely possible that the jury could have found that FedNat settled the [homeowners] claim in bad faith pursuant to section 624.155(b) had it been properly instructed on the relevant law.”  Thus, a new trial was ordered on the homeowners claim that FedNat violated Fla. Stat. 626.9541(1)(i)3.a., b., c., and d., and Fla. Stat. 624.155(b).  Id. at *3.

FOURTH DISTRICT LEAVES OPEN QUESTION OF WHETHER PUBLIC ADJUSTER CAN SERVE AS A DISINTERESTED APPRAISER

STRUBLE, P.A. handled an appeal of a trial court order it obtained declaring that a public adjuster may serve as a disinterested appraiser. State Farm appealed the order seeking a ruling that a public adjuster cannot served as a disinterested appraiser.  The Fourth District refused to make such a finding but found that the particular public adjuster could not serve as a disinterest appraiser on the claim at issued.  State Farm Florida Ins. Co. v. Valenti, 4D19-205, 2019 WL 6720500, at *1 (Fla. 4th DCA Dec. 11, 2019). Judge Conner issued a concurring opinion questioning whether a public adjuster could categorically be precluded from serving as a disinterested appraiser.  Judge Conner identified the need for a future case to address the issue of whether such a ruling would result in insureds having a difficult time finding appraisers.  A copy of this opinion can be accessed here.

FIFTH DISTRICT HOLDS THAT INSURER’s DEFENSES CAN BE RESOLVED IN APPRAISAL

STRUBLE, P.A. handled an appeal of a trial court order denying appraisal.  In the trial court, STRUBLE, P.A. argued that appraisal could only be appropriate if the entire claim is considered in appraisal, including damages denied by the insurer.  The Fifth District noted that the insurer agreed that a portion of the claim was covered—while also asserting that the amount of loss did not exceed the deductible and that the balance of the claimed loss constituted pre-existing damage. Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London v. Sorgenfrei, 278 So. 3d 930, 931 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019). Because the claim was not “wholly denied” the entire claim could be resolved in appraisal, including the insurer’s claims that the claimed damages were pre-existing. A copy of the opinion can be accessed here.

FIFTH DISTRICT HOLDS THAT INSURER’s DEFENSES CAN BE RESOLVED IN APPRAISAL

STRUBLE, P.A. handled an appeal of a trial court order denying appraisal.  In the trial court, STRUBLE, P.A. argued that appraisal could only be appropriate if the entire claim is considered in appraisal, including damages denied by the insurer for the exterior of the home.  The Fifth District found that a denial of the exterior damages is not a complete denial of the claim.  First Protective Ins. Co. v. Colucciello, 276 So. 3d 456, 457 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019).  Therefore, the Fifth District held that all of the damages, including the exterior damages denied by the insurer, could be resolved in appraisal. A copy of the opinion can be accessed here

REVERSAL OF FINAL JUDGMENT

STRUBLE, P.A. filed an appeal after obtaining a verdict in favor of a motorcyclist who was injured by a driver insured by GEICO.  The jury entered a Verdict for our client in the net amount of $475,408.58 but the trial court entered a Judgment in favor of the Defendant.  On appeal, the Fifth District held that our client was indeed entitled to recover the amount awarded by the jury and a Judgement was entered in favor of our client. A copy of the Fifth District’s opinion can be accessed here. The Fifth District held that when a Defendant pleads a statutory defense, each element of the defense must be submitted to the jury.