FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Mark R.
Richard Young, Amanda L. Kidd, Stephanie A. McQueen, and
Joshua J. Hartley of Young, Bill, Boles, Palmer & Duke,
P.A., Pensacola, for Appellant.
Charles M. Schropp and Charles P. Schropp of Schropp Law
Firm, P.A., Tampa; and Dennis G. Diecidue of The Diecidue Law
Firm, P.A., Tampa, for Appellees Elizabeth Arreola and Maria
appearance for remaining Appellees.
JAMES R., Associate Senior Judge.
Employees Insurance Company (Geico) appeals the partial
summary judgment ruling that it was required to pay an
attorney's fee judgment entered against Elizabeth Arreola
and Maria De Arreola (the Arreolas) under the supplemental
payments provision of the Arreolas' policy. We decline to
address Geico's arguments on appeal because the partial
summary judgment is a nonfinal, nonappealable order. However,
because the partial summary judgment impermissibly authorized
execution before the entry of a final judgment, we convert
the appeal into a petition for writ of certiorari and quash
the order on review.
Arreola was driving a vehicle owned by Maria De Arreola when
she was involved in an accident with another vehicle. The
driver of the other vehicle filed a personal injury action
against the Arreolas. Pursuant to the Arreolas' policy,
Geico defended the suit and assigned a salaried attorney
employed by Geico. The policy gave Geico the right to control
the defense. During the litigation, the driver served $25,
000 proposals for settlement on both Elizabeth and Maria De
Arreola. Geico's attorney did not accept the proposals
and allowed them to expire. Following a jury trial, the
driver obtained a verdict which resulted in a judgment
against the Arreolas for $80, 428.32. The driver also
obtained a judgment for attorney's fees against the
Arreolas for $121, 000 pursuant to the proposal for
settlement statute. See § 768.79, Fla. Stat.
Arreolas filed suit against Geico. Their complaint alleged
that Geico acted in bad faith and breached its fiduciary duty
in handling the claim against the Arreolas, that the attorney
assigned to the case by Geico was professionally negligent,
and that Geico was responsible for such negligence under the
doctrine of respondeat superior.
Arreolas moved for summary judgment as to the attorney's
fee judgment entered against them, arguing that Geico was
required to pay for these fees under the additional payments
provision of the Arreolas' policy-a theory of liability
that was not alleged in the complaint. The trial court
granted the motion and entered the partial summary judgment,
finding that Geico was liable for the attorney's fee
judgment under the supplemental payments provision in the
Arreola's policy. The judgment also let execution issue.
timely appealed the partial judgment, arguing that the trial
court erred in determining that it was liable for the
attorney's fees assessed against the Arreolas. This court
issued an order to show cause as to why this appeal should
not be dismissed as from a nonfinal, nonappealable order.
parties insist that this court has jurisdiction over the
final judgment. They insist that the judgment was final in
name and form and that it authorized execution. They further
argue that the breach of contract claim is separate and
distinct from the bad faith claim and that the two claims
could be tried independently of one another. In support of
this, they allege that the claims are based on separate facts
and issues: the bad faith claim requires a determination that
under the totality of the circumstances Geico acted in bad
faith in handling the claim, while the breach of contract
claim simply requires the interpretation of the policy.
disagree that the judgment is an appealable partial final
judgment. Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.110(k)
Except as otherwise provided herein, partial final judgments
are reviewable either on appeal from the partial final
judgment or on appeal from the final judgment in the entire
case. A partial final judgment, other than one that disposes
of an entire case as to any party, is one that disposes of a
separate and distinct cause of action that is not
interdependent with other pleaded claims. If a partial final