Dell Graham Attorneys Defeat Plaintiffs’ Attempt at Attorney’s Fees and Costs After Appraisal Award

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Attorneys Susan Seigle and Lisa Debroux defeated Plaintiffs’ claim for attorney’s fees, costs, and pre-judgment interest after an appraisal award was issued for a homeowner’s property insurance claim. In July, 2012, an insurer issued payment for fire damage totaling approximately $15,000.00. In January, 2013, Plaintiffs’ counsel sent a demand package for additional monies. Two weeks later, the Plaintiffs filed suit in Duval County before the insurer was able to respond to the demand. In response to the Complaint, the insurer moved to dismiss for failure to comply with a condition precedent, asserting that Plaintiffs failed to comply with the requirement to demand appraisal or mediation as a pre-condition to the lawsuit. The court granted the motion to dismiss, finding the requirements to be condition precedents and stayed the litigation pending the completion of either. After the parties participated in the appraisal process, an award was entered for an additional $13,000.00. The insurer timely paid this additional amount within the twenty days provided for in the insurance policy.

Ultimately, the Plaintiffs sought attorney’s fees, costs, and pre-judgment interest. In response, the insurer argued there was no entitlement to such an award as it properly tendered the amount of loss it reasonably believed to have been owed prior to commencement of the lawsuit. Additionally, the insurer was still participating in the claims adjustment process at the time the lawsuit was filed. The insurer further argued that Plaintiffs were not entitled to the requested amounts because payment of the appraisal award was timely made and did not constitute a confession of judgment. Following a hearing, the Court issued an order denying the relief sought by the Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs’ Motion for Rehearing was also denied by the Court.

If you would like to discuss first party property claims with Lisa Debroux (http://dellgraham.com/attorneys/lisa-m-debroux/), please contact her atldebroux@dellgraham.com or 352.372.4381. Mrs. Debroux has handled first party property claims for over ten years.