In Johnson v. Omega Ins. Co., 2016 Fla. LEXIS 2148 (Sept. 29, 2016), the Florida Supreme Court determined that the 5th DCA misapplied and misinterpreted two statutes, the first providing a presumption of correctness to the initial report of an engineer retained by an insurer to investigate a sinkhole claim, and the second providing for the award of attorney’s fees to the insured upon prevailing in litigation.
In Omega, Kathy Johnson’s homeowner’s policy included statutorily mandated sinkhole coverage. In 2010, she filed a claim with Omega to recover for damages she believed were due to sinkhole activity. In accordance with the statutory framework commonly known as the “sinkhole statutes,” Omega selected an engineer to provide an initial sinkhole investigation. That investigation revealed no sinkhole activity, and Omega denied Johnson’s claim. Under Fla. Stat. § 627.7073(1)(c), the engineer’s findings and recommendations are afforded a statutory presumption of correctness.
Continue Reading Florida Sinkhole Statute and Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees Without Bad Faith: Florida Supreme Court Reverses the 5th DCA and Reiterates Prior Holdings