We wrote about a case this firm handled from the trial court assisting up to the Florida Supreme Court in September. The case, Johnson v. Omega, has become a hallmark whenever attorney fee issues arise in sinkhole claims now. It really has set the standard moving forward and put insurance companies on notice to monitor their own conduct a little differently. The case has continued to grow stronger and branch out in a short period of time. Tow cases since September have come out supporting Johnson. The first is out for he Fifth District Court of Appeals, the same Court that was told they were wrong when they denied Mrs. Johnson attorney fees originally. The case, Garcia v. Tower Hill, is brief but states identical facts to Johnson: the claim was denied, the insured filed a lawsuit, after a neutral evaluation the insurance company changed its mind and accepted the claim. The Court states that under its prior rulings the Garcia’s would not be entitled to attorney fees but after the Supreme Court’s contrary opinion, they had no choice but to reevaluate it. In a more recent case from the Federal Middle District Court, Life Changing Ministries v. Canopius, the same facts played out and again the Court was asked to award attorney fees. In a long and interesting opinion from the Judge, it appears that he almost doesn’t want to award fees. Many comments made during the opinion appear that he personally doesn’t think they are entitled to attorney fees. Yet, in the end the Judge acknowledges that our Supreme Court has mandated that in these situations there is no choice but to compensate the homeowner and award the fees. The Judge essentially states that under the law the Supreme Court set forth, if the insurance company denies the claim, the homeowner files a lawsuit and the insurance company admits it was incorrect to deny the claim, that is all that is needed to award attorney fees.
December 16, 2016 by Morgan Barfield