A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a jury award in favor of an Axa SA unit in disputes largely related to Hurricane Irma. benefit of the Axa unit Indian Harbor Insurance Co. in a lawsuit from a real estate company in Orlando, SB Holdings I LLC, according to Friday's judgment SB Holdings I, LLC v Indian Harbor Insurance Co .
The company had filed $ 292,230.28 in connection with a pipe leak in August 2017, for which the insurer had paid $ 100,000, and an additional $ 2.3 million for a roof replacement and internal damage related to Hurricane Irma in September 2017, according to legal papers.
In order to uphold the jury's judgment in November 2020 in favor of the insurer, an appellate court with three judges said that SB Holdings had argued that the district court erred in denying its claim to force arbitration and allowing it to proceed to trial.
Under Florida law, appraisal requirements in an insurance contract, which the coverage in question requires, are treated as arbitration, the ruling explained.
This was not an issue to be separated, the appeals panel said. Florida courts have argued that, when an insurance policy includes a valuation requirement, any dispute over the amount of loss covered is a matter for a review panel to decide, "but a challenge to the coverage itself is still a matter" for a court to decide, "it said.
The district court did not err in refusing to force an evaluation because Indian Harbor "has maintained throughout this dispute that there was no covered loss," it said.
"Second, whether or not there was a covered loss, Indian Harbor also defended on the grounds that SB Holdings had failed to meet its post-loss obligations under the policy. This was also a matter of coverage for the court, not a matter of loss that would have required an assessment, "it said.
The panel also confirmed the lower court's decision to ban two witnesses from giving their expert opinions.
Lawyers in the case did not respond to a request for comment.
In January, a unit of Zurich Insurance Group Ltd. prevailed. in disputes against a construction company for compensation for damage to a condominium caused by Irma. Catalog