February 13, 2023

Kelley Kronenberg First-Party Property Win Affirmed Per Curiam by the Second DCA

Kelley Kronenberg First-Party Property Partner, Kurt Ciell, prevailed on an appeal to the Second District Court of Appeals, upholding his win at the trial level. Judge Elizabeth Krier, of Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit, presided over the lower court proceedings. 

The suit underlying the appeal involved a late-reported Hurricane Irma claim wherein the carrier issued a payment for the insured’s roof repair without raising any exclusions or expressly denying any part of the claim. The insured never advised the carrier of any disagreement with its original claim decision until after suit was filed. The carrier demanded appraisal, where the subsequent award included a full roof replacement and interior repairs. The trial court granted summary judgment in the carrier’s favor, finding the insured never provided estimates reflecting her position regarding the amount of loss, nor did she express disagreement with the carrier’s original claim decision prior to filing suit. Finally, the Court concluded filing suit was not necessary to submit the claim to appraisal.  On these bases, summary judgment in favor of the carrier was entered.  

Florida case law requires there to be some “breakdown in the claims adjustment process” before an insured can claim breach of contract. Florida law is clear that if the carrier makes a claim payment and the insured does not dispute the amount of said payment or submit a competing repair estimate prior to filing suit, then submitting the claim to appraisal after suit is filed and later paying the award is not a confession of judgment that the carrier breached the policy.  

The success on appeal, premised upon and supported by Kurt Ciell’s establishment of a comprehensive trial record, the lower court’s ruling was preserved, and our client avoided the damages sought in Plaintiff’s Complaint, including a claim for extracontractual damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.