April 8, 2024

Kelley Kronenberg Secures Dismissal in Contentious First-Party Property Insurance Dispute

Kelley Kronenberg Partner Kurt Ciell, from the firm’s First-Party Property Division, recently secured a significant victory for our insurance company client. In a case presided over by the Honorable J. Logan Murphy, of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Hillsborough County, Florida, Kurt successfully prevailed on a Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of the defendant. 

The case centered around a Hurricane Ian claim, wherein the insured had signed what purported to be an “Assignment of Benefits” agreement with the plaintiff. This agreement was in exchange for alleged services related to water mitigation and roof tarping. The plaintiff subsequently initiated legal action against the insurer, claiming breach of contract and seeking payment for four invoices totaling $34,553.61, supposedly representing the costs of the services rendered. 

In defense of our client, Kurt filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, which included the assignment agreement and all related invoices. Analysis of these documents revealed a significant inconsistency: while the assignment agreement indicated a limited scope of services with an estimated total of $2,812.60, the invoices, all generated after the agreement was signed, portrayed a considerably broader scope of work, resulting in a balance due exceeding $34,000.00. This vast disparity led State Farm to argue that the assignment agreement was “invalid and unenforceable” under Fl. Stat. 627.7152(2)(a)5, as it failed to provide an accurate estimate for the services to be performed. 

Judge Murphy concurred with the defense’s arguments, ruling that the estimate within the assignment agreement did not truly represent the services to be performed when considered alongside the invoices. Furthermore, it was determined that the plaintiff had not provided the insured with updated and accurate estimates as required by law. Consequently, the judge granted Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss without prejudice, effectively ending the case without the option for the plaintiff to amend their complaint. 

This outcome illustrates the depth of expertise and commitment to excellence exhibited by Kelley Kronenberg’s First-Party Property Insurance Defense team, particularly demonstrated by Kurt’s adept handling of the case.