1 September 2023

QPWB Attorneys Secure Decisive Victory in Hurricane Irma Insurance Defense Case

Contact Information

Managing Partner

Eric W. Boyer

(407) 872-6011

eboyer@qpwblaw.com

Release Date

1 September 2023

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Miami, FL - QPWB firm Partner James M. Fishman and trial partner Matthew J. Allen obtained a complete defense verdict in a multiple part verdict in a first party insurance defense case arising out of Hurricane Irma. 

In this case, the Plaintiff’s home was damaged as a result of Hurricane Irma.  The insurance company received notice of the claim within two days, and the claim was inspected within three weeks.  The inspection did not include any interior damages, as the Plaintiff indicated that there were no such damages at the time of the inspection. A coverage determination was rendered within six weeks agreeing to payment for the roof and fence damages presented to the independent field adjuster. Payment was made upon the adjuster’s estimate.  The payment letter indicated that the Plaintiff could make a further claim if the repairs required additional funds. No such claim was presented to the insurance company.

The Plaintiff proceeded to repair his property, but with total disregard to the claimed and paid for roof damages. There was testimony that other damages were repaired with some alleged repair (not mitigation) of roof damages by a handyman.  No such roof repairs could be verified, even from inspections 3-4 years after the date of loss. No documentation of same was offered by the Plaintiff. Further, no effort was made to preserve and protect the water tightness of the roof following the estimated damages in 2017.

In 2019, the Plaintiff placed tarps on the roof when water was found leaking into the interior.  He obtained counsel following contact by a Loss Consultant who saw tarps on the roof, which were placed earlier that year. Claims were presented for the first time for interior damages, for which the defense was that the failure to preserve and protect the roof from water intrusion was a separate, intervening cause of such damages.  This was one of several issues raised.  The failure to cover the property rendered the cause of these subsequent damages a peril for which there was no coverage.

The Plaintiff and a company representative testified, outlining their varying positions. Each party presented an estimator and an engineer who opined as to the damages and their cause. After five days of detailed testimony and argument, the jury was given the case at 6:30 pm on a Friday and returned their verdict at 9:30 pm. The jury had been extraordinarily observant throughout the course of the five-day trial, took notes throughout and were obviously cautious in taking three hours for their deliberations.

The verdict determined, in separate inquiries, that the Plaintiff had failed to prove by the preponderance of the evidence that the insurance company had breached the insurance contract by having failed to make complete payment in the original adjustment of the damages in 2017 and stated that the Defendant has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the Plaintiff had failed to preserve and protect the property from damage at and after the loss occurred.

Entry of the Final Judgement and action on the earlier filed Proposal for Settlement are pending.

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