This is a editorial posted by attorney Ted Corless of Corless Associates on his website www.czlegal.com and posted word for word below. Our firm has had the pleasure of working with Mr. Corless on many cases in the past and present. It addresses a recent opinion that was published by a Florida appellate court. Obviously, Mr. Corless, like many of us, has strong feelings about some of the practices we deal with from insurance attorneys daily and does not hide his displeasure. Read below.
“It would be fair to say that the Appellate Courts of Florida face challenging, complex legal issues, many of which require dozens of hours of analysis to assure compliance with existing legal precedent. Many times, my clients who appeal cases are frustrated by the fact an appellate court fails to write an opinion or directly address an issue of concern.
Apparently, David Salmon and his law firm of Groelle & Salmon got the Court’s attention. This firm defends a lot of the sinkhole, hurricane, and other insurance cases I file on behalf of policyholders.
In a blazing comment regarding the conduct of Mr. Salmon’s firm and the insurance company, the Fourth District Court wrote, in a case styled Central Square Tarragon LLC v. Great Divide Ins. Co., 2011 WL 2622383 (July 6, 2011):
This appeal pits ‘integrity’ in the practice of law against an unwarranted game of ‘gotcha.’ …
Our system of justice depends upon lawyers as officers of the court. Here, insurance counsel abandoned that role and engaged in gamesmanship by failing to honor the stipulation. That conduct deprived the purchaser of a fair trial; justice requires a new trial.
I cannot claim to know the ethical boundaries or quality of these lawyers, or whether these matters warranted these kinds of comments by the Court. I can say that as a lawyer who represented insurance companies before my current practice, I cannot imagine a client being happy with this. I can say that I spoke with a lawyer from this firm (who would not want to be identified), who boldly declared, “oh, we intend to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.” Really? Seriously? Do you really think so much of yourself that you think the Florida Supreme Court might find something of “great public importance” in this? I guess some lawyers think “all press is good press,” but I can say that many insurance companies wouldn’t want to get new this kind of conduct with a 10 foot pole.
Final question: who is going to pay for this new appeal, if he is actually serious? The insurance company? Let me guess, are they going to pay for these appeals and then go to the Florida legislature and ask for a rate increase to cover these new expenses? In the end, this was the client’s fault, as I would assume the client would have supported these theories, as lawyers would ordinarily seek their client’s approval before taking these kinds of steps.
I don’t want to paraphrase the case, and would urge anyone to read it before drawing a conclusion about this. If you cannot find the case, email me and I will send a copy to you (or ask any mediator, judge, defense attorney, or any other in this profession, because they are all talking about it). I wonder if the lawyers at Groelle & Salmon had the chutzpah to put this in their newsletter?”