final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Alachua County. Monica J.
A. Fine and Cherie H. Fine of Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano,
P.A., Gainesville, for Appellant.
M. Seigle of Alvarez, Winthrop, Thompson and Storey, P.A.,
Gainesville, for Appellee.
Dianya Markovits, was injured in an automobile crash and
brought suit against Appellee, State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Company, for uninsured motorist benefits under her
insurance policy. She served a proposal for settlement on
State Farm which was not accepted. After trial, Markovits
obtained a final judgment in her favor which was more than 25
percent greater than the amount demanded in the proposal for
settlement, and she then moved for attorneys' and
paralegals' fees based on the rejected
proposal. See § 768.79(1), Fla. Stat.
(2014). State Farm disputed her entitlement to fees
contending that the proposal was served prematurely.
See Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442(b). The trial court agreed
with State Farm and held that Markovits was not entitled to
an award of fees. Based on our case law which establishes
that service on an insurer is perfected when the Chief
Financial Officer of the State of Florida (CFO) is served as
an insurer's "attorney to receive service of all
legal process issued against it in any civil action or
proceeding in this state, " we hold that the proposal
was not premature, and that Markovits is entitled to
reasonable attorneys' and paralegals' fees. §
624.422(1), Fla. Stat. (2014). We therefore reverse and
remand for a hearing to determine the amount of fees to be
awarded to Markovits.
required by law, the complaint was served on the CFO.
See §§ 48.151, 624.422, 624.423, Fla.
Stat. (2014). The CFO was served on February 4, 2014, and his
office forwarded the complaint to State Farm on February 7,
2014. See § 624.423(1), Fla. Stat. On May 6,
2014, Markovits served the proposal for settlement on State
Farm. Rule 1.442(b), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, states
in part that a "proposal to a defendant shall be served
no earlier than 90 days after service of process on that
defendant." State Farm was served with the proposal 91
days after service of the complaint on the CFO but 88 days
after the complaint was forwarded by the CFO to State Farm.
Markovits argues that service was perfected when the CFO was
served, and therefore the proposal complied with rule
1.442(b). State Farm argues that service was not
perfected until the CFO forwarded the complaint to State
Farm, and therefore the proposal was premature and invalid.
Both parties cite certain statutory language in support of
points to section 624.422, which states,
(1) Each licensed insurer, whether domestic, foreign, or
alien, shall be deemed to have appointed the Chief Financial
Officer and her or his successors in office as its attorney
to receive service of all legal process issued against it in
any civil action or proceeding in this state; and
process so served shall be valid and binding upon the
While State Farm points to section 624.423, which states,
(3) Process served upon the Chief Financial
Officer and copy thereof forwarded as in
this section provided shall for all purposes
constitute valid and binding service thereof
upon the insurer.
Centex-Rodgers Construction Company v. Hensel Phelps
Construction Company, 591 So.2d 1117, 1117 (Fla. 1st DCA
1992), we discussed "whether service on a foreign
corporation and its surety is perfected through service on
the Insurance Commissioner's office, as agent of the
surety." At the time, the Insurance Commissioner was the
statutory agent under sections 48.151, 624.422, and 624.423,
but the statutes were otherwise almost identical to the 2014
versions. Although Centex-Rodgers involved the
question of ...