The Second DCA recently decided Omega v. Wallace. The facts of the case are admittedly odd so I won’t recite them as it gets confusing. Long story short, how we define structural damage was the main issue in dispute. Even though the retroactive application of the changes to the law in 2011 were not actually an issue the Second DCA still went out of its way to put in a footnote that those changes cannot be retroactively applied. Long story short, if an insurance policy was issued prior to May 17, 2011 you cannot be subject to the new laws.
The Second DCA also commented on how structural damage should be defined in those cases where the changes in the law don’t apply. They said that the engineers who testified about damage to the building caused by sinkhole activity were consistent with the policy terms. This is because, the Court continued on, nothing indicates based on the plain language of the policy that one particular definition must be used over another. This may not be 100% clear but certainly it gives us insight into how the Second DCA views this issue and it doesn’t seem favorable for insurance companies who typically want a more detailed, technical definition to apply. Its worth noting that this is the third time the Second DCA has heard this issue. Once it affirmed a judgment in favor of a homeowner without writing an opinion, the second time it briefly said the insurance companies argument was without merit and moved on and Wallace is now the third time they have addressed it. So far, all three look clearly in favor of Florida homeowners. As far as I am concerned, this debate can be put to rest.