FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for Brevard County, Tonya B.
Matthew G. Struble, of Struble, P.A., Ft. Lauderdale, for
L. Bellus, Barbara E. Fox and Bretton C. Albrecht, of Kubicki
Draper, P.A., Miami, and Ilana Green Kellner, of Green,
Ackerman & Matzner, P.A., Boca Raton, for Appellee.
and Kimberly Cooper ("the Coopers") appeal a jury
verdict in favor of Federated National Insurance Company
("FedNat"). The Coopers raise a number of issues on
appeal, only one of which requires reversal: the trial
court's refusal to give the Coopers' requested jury
instruction. We affirm in all other respects.
Coopers maintained a homeowner's insurance policy with
FedNat and filed an insurance claim related to a small leak
in a bedroom window of their home. Before the claim was
resolved, the Coopers alleged that mold spread throughout
their home as a result of the leak.
the pendency of their claim with FedNat, the Coopers hired a
mold remediation company, who sent FedNat a $13, 000 invoice
for work it completed at the Coopers' home. The invoice
contained no details of the nature or scope of the
remediation. FedNat requested that the company provide
additional information regarding the work, but the company
did not comply. Around that time, the Coopers also hired a
public adjuster, who refused to provide FedNat with his
estimate of the property damage. As a result, FedNat paid the
Coopers what it determined was owed based on its own
investigation. FedNat closed the case with the understanding
that the claim would be reopened if and when the Coopers'
public adjuster provided his damages estimate.
Coopers filed a civil remedy notice ("CRN"),
alleging that FedNat violated section 624.155(1)(b), Florida
Statutes (2015), by failing to settle their claim in good
faith. They also alleged that FedNat violated several
provisions of section 626.9541(1)(i)3., Florida Statutes
(2015), by failing to adopt and implement standards for the
proper investigation of claims and denying claims without
conducting reasonable investigations based upon available
information. Further, the Coopers invoked the appraisal
provision of their insurance policy.
the Coopers filed the CRN and invoked the appraisal
provision, the public adjuster forwarded his assessment of
the damages to FedNat, although he had completed his report
weeks earlier. He also provided FedNat with documentation
regarding the scope of the mold inundation. While the
appraisal procedure was ongoing, a FedNat engineer sent an
internal memorandum to one of FedNat's internal
adjusters, acknowledging the extent of the mold in the
Coopers' home. FedNat offered the Coopers $35, 000 to
settle the claim, which the Coopers rejected. At the
conclusion of the appraisal process, a neutral referee
determined that the Coopers were owed $11, 395.56 for mold
damage and $72, 254.11 for repairs. FedNat paid the Coopers
pursuant to the policy.
Coopers filed the instant suit, alleging that FedNat violated
section 624.155(1)(b) by not attempting to settle their claim
in good faith when it could and should have done so.
Additionally, they asserted that FedNat violated almost every
provision of section 626.9541(1)(i)3. through acts such as
failing to adopt and implement standards for the proper
investigation of claims, misrepresenting pertinent facts or
insurance policy provisions relating to coverages at issue,
and denying claims without conducting reasonable
investigations based upon available information.
trial, both sides presented conflicting evidence and experts
as to the appropriateness of FedNat's handling of the
claim. The Coopers submitted a proposed jury instruction
related to the alleged violation of section 626.9541(1)(i)3.,
which provided, in relevant part:
Bad faith on the part of an insurance company also includes
violating Fla. Stat. § 626.9541 by committing any of the
Failing to adopt and implement standards for the proper
investigation of the claim; misrepresenting pertinent facts
or insurance policy provisions relating to coverages at
issue; failing to acknowledge and act promptly upon
communications with respect to the claim; denying the claim
without conducting reasonable investigations based upon
available information; failing to promptly provide a
reasonable explanation in writing to the insured of the basis
in the insurance policy, in relation to the facts or
applicable law, for denial of a claim or for the offer of a
compromise settlement; failing to promptly notify the insured
of any additional ...