Zaleski v. State Farm

by | Mar 5, 2021 | News Publications

Fourth DCA confirms Fortune v. First Protective Ins. Co. and Landers v. State Farm Fla. Ins. Co. holding that appraisal invocation does not toll CRN cure period.

In Zaleski, State Farm investigated the loss and made its undisputed payment.  The Insured filed a civil remedy notice (“CRN”).  Two weeks after filing the CRN, the Insured submitted an estimate in the amount of $168,575.11.  State Farm then invoked appraisal and paid the appraisal award (in the amount of $163,479.10) within 6 days of receipt of the award.  However, the payment was made over two months after the 60-day cure period.  The Insured filed a bad-faith suit and State Farm moved to dismiss/for summary judgment which the Court granted (1) because the 60-day cure period tolled until the appraisal award was final and State Farm timely paid the award; and (2) the CRN was deficient because it did not state with specificity the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violation. 

The Court rejected the first argument based on Fortune v. First Protective Ins. Co., 302 So. 3d 485 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020) and Landers v. State Farm Fla. Ins. Co., 234. So. 3d 856 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018) which both held that appraisal does not toll the CRN cure period.

The Court also rejected the second argument finding the following was sufficient:

“In relevant part, the CRN stated that State Farm performed a cursory inspection of the property, failed to retain experts necessary to identify the repairs necessary to restore the property to its pre-loss condition, and gave a “lowball” estimate that failed to encompass all covered damages. Moreover, prior to State Farm invoking appraisal, the Homeowners provided State Farm with their detailed estimate. Thus, the CRN sufficiently put State Farm on notice of the facts and circumstances giving rise to the violations and the corrective action required to remedy the violations.”

Interestingly, this court accepted that State Farm was on notice of a “cure” amount, although the Insured did not provide State Farm with its disputed estimate until two weeks after the CRN was filed.  Given that this likely does not qualify as notice of a “supplemental claim” pursuant to Goldberg v. Universal Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 12720 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020) , it would be interesting to know if the court would have ruled similarly had this been a Hurricane or windstorm claim.