Tag Archives: thompson trial group

Second DCA Finds Florida Peninsula Does Not Have to Provide Sinkhole Coverage under Policy Without Sinkhole Coverage

Florida Peninsula Home Insurance

fist-pump-baby

In a sinkhole case where I handled the underlying litigation for Florida Peninsula, the Second DCA determined Florida Peninsula was not required to provide sinkhole coverage to an insured who did not have sinkhole coverage.

I know how funny that headline may sound to you; however, the Plaintiff’s attorney argued that the policy was ambiguous for the following reasons:

  • the policy’s “Checklist of Coverage” had a “Y” next to the word “Sinkhole;”
  • the insurance agent testified she selected sinkhole coverage;
  • Florida Peninsula allegedly did not comply with certain notice requirements for excluding sinkhole loss; and
  • part of the policy discussed the Neutral Evaluation process.

If you want to know more about each of these arguments, please review the order embedded at the end of this post.

The Plaintiff’s law firm, Thompson Trial Group, did such a good job at the trial stage that they convinced the trial court that, as a matter of law, the Plaintiff had sinkhole coverage. At the trial court level, I explained to the trial court that all of Plaintiff’s argument fail as a matter of law. The Second DCA’s rationale set forth in the opinion reflects exactly what our arguments were at the trial stage. In short, statutes and case law clearly negated the Plaintiff’s arguments for coverage, and the exclusions were clear … to say the least. Nevertheless, the trial court reasoned that the Neutral Evaluation provision created an ambiguity.

Some other “fact” arguments in Florida Peninsula’s favor included:

  • Plaintiff did not pay the premium for “sinkhole loss;” and
  • Plaintiff did not even remember if she tried to obtain sinkhole coverage.

Not only did I set forth all of the legal principles outlining why Plaintiff’s counterarguments failed as a matter of law; I actually obtained raw computer data showing that the Plaintiff’s agent did not select sinkhole coverage. To try to save the costs of having to prove this matter at the appellate level, we wanted to cover all of our bases in the unlikely event that a fact issue remained.

Unlike the trial court, the Second DCA acknowledged my arguments (through other appellate counsel) that all of the Plaintiff’s legal arguments were not sufficient under Florida law. Although the trial court granted summary judgment for the Plaintiff, the Second DCA (1) reversed the trial court’s summary judgment for Plaintiff AND (2) remanded it to the trial court to enter judgment for Florida Peninsula.

After waiting years for this decision, I am very pleased and happy that Florida Peninsula trusted us to take the risks of pursuing this matter all the way through its conclusion.

* Of course, the ruling is not final until time for a rehearing has passed, and Plaintiff is free to appeal this matter to the Florida Supreme Court.

Here is the complete order:

Download (PDF, 97KB)


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 photo courtesy of http://www.uasblog.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/fist-pump-baby.jpeg

Citizens Offers to Settle Another 600 Sinkhole Cases with Marshall Thomas Burnett

Florida Homeowners Insurance Claims and Litigation Handbook

Overview:

Citizens made an offer to 600 of Marshall Thomas Burnett’s clients to resolve pending sinkhole lawsuits.  This follows the 300 offers to Thompson Trial Group’s clients, and the 300 with Boyette, Cummins & Nailos.



In the press release included below, you can see the process of how the proposed settlement will play out for the homeowners; however, the terms of the proposed settlement for attorney’s fees were not included in the release:

Download (PDF, 79KB)

In this article regarding the first of these group settlements, I outlined my analysis on why these settlements make perfect sense for everyone, especially Citizens.  By taking a top-down approach to these claims, Citizens was able to substantially reduce exposure while still giving the homeowners everything they needed.

The only question is “how to we get to these results one month after the lawsuit is filed, instead of after years of litigation?” As you know, my opinion is that software could have yielded the same results at a fraction of the costs.

In the press release, Citizens also stated it has approximately 2,000 sinkhole cases remaining.  As always, we will keep you updated.

Takeaway:

The billion dollar sinkhole claim industry keeps inching towards extinction.


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Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Agrees with Thompson Trial Group to Settle 300 Sinkhole Cases

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

Sinkhole cases are that much closer to being done in Florida. Read this article to get the details on Citizens’s recent settlement with Thompson Trial Group.


According to a press release today, Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corporation reached an agreement to resolve 300 litigated sinkhole homeowners insurance cases with Thompson Trial Group.  The press release contains the relevant information, including the terms of the coverage and repairs, as well as the agreed payments to Thompson Trial Group:

Download (PDF, 81KB)

This follows a March, 2014 settlement of another 300 sinkhole cases I discussed here.

Florida is now one step closer to closing the door on the billions of dollars in losses for sinkhole claims over the past decade (or more); however, hundreds, and maybe thousands, of sinkhole claims remain pending in litigation. As always, I will update you when the next mass settlement occurs.


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