final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
of Certiorari to the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County,
Martin Zilber, Judge Lower Tribunal No. 18-27366.
& Rockenbach, P.A., Kara Berard Rockenbach and David A.
Noel (West Palm Beach), for petitioner.
Eljaiek, Lopez & Martinez, P.L., Steven E. Gurian and Joe
De Prado, for respondents.
EMAS, C.J., and FERNANDEZ, and LINDSEY, JJ.
Farm petitions this Court for a writ of certiorari to quash
the trial court's April 9, 2019 order allowing the
insureds' agent/public adjuster to act as their
"disinterested" appraiser. We agree with State Farm
and quash the order.
Charles Sanders and Diana Sanders had a homeowners'
insurance policy with State Farm to provide coverage for
property damages. The appraisal condition in State Farm's
Homeowner Policy states that, "Each party will select a
qualified, disinterested appraiser . . ." On August 13,
2018, the insureds filed suit against State Farm for breach
of contract arising out of a Hurricane Irma property damage
claim, alleging that State Farm failed to provide coverage
for the loss. In response to the complaint, State Farm filed
a Motion to Invoke Appraisal, claiming that there was a
pre-suit dispute regarding the insureds' selected
December 12, 2018, the parties entered into an agreed order
granting State Farm's Motion to Invoke Appraisal. The
Order named Peter Patterson of VRS Vericlaim as State
Farm's appraiser and required the insureds to designate
their "qualified, disinterested appraiser," as
stated in State Farm's policy. The insureds selected Gian
Franco Debernardi of 911 Claims Corporation as their
Debernardi is the insureds' agent pursuant to their
contract with 911 Claims Corporation, which states that he
will "be the agent and representative, under the
insurance contract by State Farm Insurance . . . to adjust,
appraise, advise and assist in the settlement of the
loss." In addition, the contract assigns 10% of the
amount recovered to 911 Claims Corporation. Previously, Mr.
Debernardi inspected the property, reported the insurance
claim to State Farm, and prepared the $88, 536.41 estimate
that is the subject of the dispute between State Farm and the
February 20, 2019, the insureds filed a Motion to Lift Stay
and Compel Compliance with the Court Order, contending that
appraisal should move forward with Mr. Debernardi as their
appraiser. State Farm argued that Mr. Debernardi was not
"disinterested" because of his agent/principal
relationship with the insureds, his contingency fee, and his
prior estimate of damages. On April 9, 2019, the trial court
granted the Motion to Lift Stay and entered an order
permitting Mr. Debernardi to act as the insureds'
"disinterested" appraiser. State Farm then filed
this petition for writ of certiorari.
trial court's April 9, 2019 order allowing Mr. Debernardi
to act as the insureds' disinterested appraiser departs
from the essential requirements of the law. This will cause
material injury to State Farm that cannot be remedied on
appeal. Rousso v. Hannon, 146 So.3d 66, 69 (Fla. 3d
DCA 2014) ("To invoke an appellate court's
certiorari jurisdiction, '[t]he petitioning party must
demonstrate that the contested order constitutes "(1) a
departure from the essential requirements of the law, (2)
resulting in material injury for the remainder of the case[,
] (3) that cannot be corrected on post-judgment
appeal."'" (first quoting Bd. of Trs. of
Internal Improvement Tr. Fund v. Am. Educ.
Enters., 99 So.3d 450, 454 (Fla. 2012); then quoting
Reeves v. Fleetwood Homes of Fla., Inc., 889 So.2d
812, 822 (Fla. 2004))).
Mr. Debernardi to act as the insureds'
"disinterested" appraiser is a harm that cannot be
remedied on appeal, due to the nature of appraisal. The
insureds contend in their Response to State Farm's
petition, once an appraisal award is confirmed by the trial
court, State Farm could then move to vacate it and then file
Florida case law does not support this position. After an
insurer pays an appraisal award, the trial court is not
required to confirm this award, as a petition to confirm an
appraisal award is not authorized under Florida law.
State Farm Fla. Ins. Co. v. Gonzalez, 76 So.3d 34,
37 (Fla. 3d ...