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January 18, 2023

Kelley Kronenberg Obtains Complete Defense Verdict in First-Party Property Claim Through Non-Binding Arbitration

Kelley Kronenberg Practice Group Partner, Robert DiMarco, obtained a complete defense verdict at a non-binding arbitration in Palm Beach County. In this First-Party Property insurance claim, Mr. DiMarco successfully proved Plaintiffs and/or their representatives committed misrepresentation/fraud under the policy’s concealment/fraud provision, thus precluding recovery. 

Plaintiffs filed a claim with our client seeking damages related to Hurricane Irma. After completing its investigation, the carrier opened coverage and paid Plaintiffs $22,870.41 for damage to their home’s roof and interior. Thereafter, and thirteen days prior to filing suit, Plaintiffs submitted an estimate of damages and demanded nearly $305,000.00. The estimate was created by Plaintiffs’ scope and price damage “expert” who was contracted by Plaintiffs’ public adjuster.  

The instant suit, filed in November of 2019, followed Defendant’s denial of further recompense, and sought a determination of whether Defendant breached the policy by underpaying Plaintiffs’ claimed damages. Critical to this determination was the issue of whether Plaintiffs and/or their representatives made a material misrepresentation regarding the price or scope of their damages, thereby voiding coverage entirely. 

Through attorney DiMarco’s post-suit subpoenas and discovery requests, it was revealed Plaintiffs filed a claim with a different insurance company seeking payment for damages overlapping those sought in the instant claim. In the other suit, Plaintiffs submitted a damage estimate in excess of $212,000.00 prepared by the same “expert” Plaintiffs used in the subject lawsuit. The second insurance claim was covered and pre-suit payments totaling nearly $11,000.00 were made.  

Plaintiffs filed suit over both claims against the respective insurers on the same exact day. While handling, Defendant made pre-suit payments totaling $27,000; the post-suit demand rose to $395k. While Defendant considered settlement an option, Plaintiffs rejected the offer made. With potential exposure approaching $400,000.00, plus the potential fees and costs associated with trial, Defense Counsel averted risk by pushing for a finding of Fraud/Misrepresentation. After consideration of the evidence presented at the arbitration, Plaintiffs agreed to file a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice, resulting in a complete win for the defense.