How “Specific” Do You Need to Get? Fla.’s 4th DCA on Statutory Specificity Requirements

How “Specific” Do You Need to Get? Fla.’s 4th DCA on Statutory Specificity Requirements

Our office has previously addressed other cases and contexts where the use of a Civil Remedy Notice has been employed, and the courts have rendered their opinions on such statutory language (see here).

Recently, another Florida court had been tasked with interpreting a portion of the statutory language surrounding the contents of a Civil Remedy Notice (CRN). CRN’s (which we explore further here) are an insured’s first step when bringing a bad faith cause of action against an insurance company who has failed to honor the terms of your policy. Therefore, CRN’s have certain components they must contain with specificity to meet the requirements of Fla. Stat. §624.155.

Recently, insureds from Broward County, FL, Doreen Gooden and Winsett Brown (“Gooden”) filed their CRN, and subsequently filed a complaint, against their insurance company, People’s Trust Insurance Company (“PTIC”) for a bad faith cause of action. PTIC, in response, moved to dismiss the suit on the grounds that Gooden’s CRN did not meet the specificity requirements of Fla. Stat. 624.155.[1] The lower court, relying on the 4th DCA’s ruling in Julien v. United Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., held that Gooden’s CRN had failed to meet the specificity requirements regarding the relevant policy sections and statutory provisions, and accordingly, entered an order for dismissal.[2] Gooden filed their appeal to the 4th DCA, which gave rise to this case and its distinction from Julien.

The 4th DCA, upon reviewing the circumstances and contents of Gooden’s CRN in comparison with that from Julien, decidedly reversed the lower court's holding. The 4th DCA found that, while Julien had listed nearly “all policy sections and cited thirty-five statutory provisions,” Gooden cited only to “nine [9] statutory provisions and a single policy provision.” Therefore, procedurally speaking, the court found that the dismissal of Gooden’s claim for failure to satisfy the specificity requirements of Fla. Stat. §624.155 were not supported on a motion for dismissal.[3] Accordingly, the 4th DCA distinguished the sufficiency of a CRN from its previous holding in Julien and reversed the lower court’s decision for further proceedings.

So, the takeaway from such a finding is that, when it comes to filing your CRN, be sincere and be concise, only including portions relevant to your claim. As Julien taught, one can’t just throw every accusation it has at its disposal and wait for any of them to stick to seek recovery. As Gooden did, you must list such relevant provisions and policy sections so that the language can be accurately targeted to see how much violations presented themselves. When it comes to that, you may need the experience of a knowledgeable attorney (hello!) who can assist you with identifying and accurately characterizing such facts, policy, and statutory provisions. If you believe your insurer is not acting in accordance with the insurance policy, feel free to reach out to us and explore what viable avenues of relief you have. Your Loss is Our Concern.

If you have a question regarding this article, or your claim in general, follow the link here, email us at info@schirmerlaw.com, call us at (754) 240-3774, or stop by our Fort Lauderdale office for a free consultation. Your Loss is Our Concern.

DISCLAIMER: This blog/article, and its representations, do not equate to legal advice. All representations, characterizations, and impressions made directly or inadvertently are solely those of the Author/Law Firm and cannot be taken as legal advice. Such material is being made available to the public for educational purposes only as well as to give a general understanding of the laws upon which it speaks. By using this article, You, the reader, understand that there is no attorney-client relationship formed between you and the Author/Firm which publishes this blog/article. This Blog/Article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed practitioner of law in your State.

 

[1] The 2021 Statutory requirements include: 1) The statutory provision the insurer allegedly violated; 2) The facts and circumstances giving rise to the violation; 3) Names of individuals involved; 4) Specific Policy Language relevant to the violation; 5) Statement that notice was being given to perfect the right to pursue civil remedy.

[2] Julien v. United Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 311 So.3d 875 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021)

[3] The Gooden court held that, while the arguments raised by PTIC may raise valid arguments for matters on summary judgment, they were not sufficient to support a dismissal of action.

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