The Eleventh Circuit, in J.P.F.D. Investment Corp. v. United Specialty Insurance Co., recently affirmed a district court’s denial of statutory attorneys’ fees to a policyholder that, to resolve a disagreement over the amount of loss, filed suit against its insurer instead of participating in appraisal.
In Florida, policyholder attorneys are often quick to file lawsuits against insurers in order to trigger statutory fee shifting. Florida Statutes § 627.428 provides:
(1) Upon the rendition of a judgment or decree by any of the courts of this state against an insurer and in favor of any named or omnibus insured or the named beneficiary under a policy or contract executed by the insurer, the trial court . . . shall adjudge or decree against the insurer and in favor of the insured or beneficiary a reasonable sum as fees or compensation for the insured’s or beneficiary’s attorney prosecuting the suit in which the recovery is had.
In J.P.F.D., the policyholder’s building suffered water damage. After receiving notice, the insurer promptly sent an independent adjuster to inspect the property. On the same day, the insurer sent a water extraction company to the premises. The insurer paid the water extraction company in full, less deductible.