Wednesday, December 30, 2015

3d DCA Watch -- Citizen's Insurance Really Sucks Edition!

You ever hear lawyers who sue insurance companies always complain about how they behave, and you go "sure there are some excesses but they can't always be so bad all the time"?

But then a scorched-earth case like this comes along and you scratch your heads and simply wonder why:
The general background of this case is that Pulloquinga had a homeowner’s insurance policy with Citizens. In May 2011 her house was destroyed by fire, which Pulloquinga immediately reported to Citizens. Pulloquinga sat for an EUO with no counsel and provided documents to support the loss. Citizens initially provided $5,000 to Pulloquinga, but it made no other payments to her and she eventually had to file this action to attempt to obtain payment under her policy.

For the two years between the date of the fire and the trial date of this action, Pulloquinga was required to maintain payment on her mortgage as well as provide for alternative housing, including at certain points having to stay in friends’ homes and at other times in “meager” housing due to her dire financial situation.

This action was filed in March 2012 and the ensuing litigation was highly contentious. Citizens accused Pulloquinga of arson, threatened Section 57.105 sanctions and claimed there was no coverage for the loss. Approximately 27 depositions were taken from Jacksonville to Key West and multiple hearings were held, including four summary judgment motion hearings. The case was also scheduled for trial twice. Summary judgment was eventually entered in Pulloquinga’s favor on all of Citizens’ defenses.1

On the eve of the rescheduled trial in May 2013 Citizens capitulated and agreed to pay the full policy limits as well as Pulloquinga’s attorney’s fees and costs. After some stalling on Citizen’s part, the policy limits were eventually paid. Pulloquinga then sought determination of the amount of fees and costs from the trial court, which required yet additional hearings on her entitlement because Citizens took the unsupportable position that she had assigned her right to entitlement. The trial court properly rejected that argument.
The 3d ultimately affirms Judge Blake's award of a 1.5 multiplier on fees, which to me seems modest.

Footnote 3 is my personal favorite:
Citizens also went so far as to contest the value of DVDs destroyed by the fire and valued at $19.
What in the world were these defense lawyers thinking in defending this case in this manner?

Bah Humbug!!


Anonymous said...

Maybe you should also report on the three 3dca decisions today affirming summary denials of petitions for residency by needy children. Judge Salter dissented from each, in very strong persuasive terms. Just as it does by issuing pcas in almost all of its criminal cases, the 3dca has shut the courtroom door on young abandoned traumatized impoverished immigrants.

South Florida Lawyers said...

Agree and thank you for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Why blame Greenspoon Marder? They represented the poor homeowner.

South Florida Lawyers said...

7:32 -- you're right! Fixed.

Google Lawyer said...