Homeowners from Merlin Law Group won and received a winning jury rating yesterday in Lee County, Florida. In a week-long lawsuit against Avatar Property and Casualty Insurance Company, represented by defense attorney Curt Allen, attorneys for Merlin Law Group Dennis Bailey, Amy Currotto and Anthony Orlando made the winning presentation and closing argument before the jury retired to answer a 16-question judgment form. I mentioned that this trial was going on while I was commenting on another trial in yesterday's post, Insurance Company Lawyer says that the jury insurance companies can not be expected to know the building codes . ] Former Judge Dennis Bailey as Head of the Merlin Law Group Trial Division :
Dennis has experience in the real estate insurance business and worked at the same policyholder firm Javier Delgado before joining our company. He will work closely with Chief Attorney Mike Duffy on the supervision and support of cases. His experience and passion for litigation will help the most experienced Merlin Law Group attorney and assist with the training and mentorship of other attorneys with little litigation exposure.
I believe that Dennis is a great complement to the team effort of the Merlin Law Group, which seeks to provide the best representation for all law firms representing policyholders. Insurance companies and their lawyers know that behind every lawyer and client in Merlin Law Group is an experienced trial lawyer who also has the view of being a judge. It is unique to have a person who has tried hundreds of cases before a jury, taught lawyers how to convincingly try cases and looked at cases from the bench.
The judgment form shows the many complex and varying reasons Avatar tried to deny the claim. Avatar is no stranger to fighting its own policyholders. I mentioned how a court got its lawyers to file their claims documents in, The Mythical Claim File Privilege and commented:
Why should insurance companies withhold claim logs created before any "event" gives rise to the wait for disputes simply because they are in the "damage document?" Why could they similarly withhold a loss report or the independent adjuster / field adjuster's initial estimate, photographs, reports and communications created before the insurer could reasonably have expected disputes?
In most circumstances, the insurance company's routine investigation of the loss is carried out in good time before any event that can be said to give rise to a waiting for disputes. In the absence of evidence that they were prepared pending litigation, these documents do not fall under the product privileges and can be discovered regardless of whether they are in a "claims file."
While Avatar is no stranger to published disputes or not. towards its clients, its persistent and smart advisers have also found their way into a recently published statement: 1
Curt Allen represented SafePoint at the trial. The purpose of an examination under oath is & # 39; to enable the insurer to possess all knowledge and all information about other sources and methods of knowledge, in terms of facts, substantive rights, to enable him to decide on his obligations and to protect it from false claims. ” Goldman v. State Farm Fire Gen. Ins. 660 So. 2d 300, 305 n.9 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995) (with reference to Claflin v. Commonwealth Ins. 110 US 81, 94–95, 3 S.Ct. 507, 28 L.Ed. 76 (1884)). Very little of Allen's work accomplished this purpose. Although one must read the entire survey to fully appreciate his behavior, the first thirty pages of Mr Hallet's first survey contain only several cases of unprofessional conduct. Allen repeatedly lectured and questioned Mr. Hallet – a mechanic with a high school education – about the legal consequences of politics. He called Mr Hallet "rude", "disrespectful", "confrontational" and "defensive." He referred to how long he had practiced law and repeatedly emphasized his previous career as a murder prosecutor.
During all three surveys, his behavior toward opponents was also unprofessional. He called opponents lawyers such as "annoying," "offensive," "warlike," "snarky," "a jerk," "a very nasty person," "a layman" and an "ass." He informed opponents that he "was not in South Florida," was "not in Miami," and that the Hernando County judges "will really be interested in your style." "and described his objections as" Grievable. "Overall, Allen's repetitive and argumentative investigations illustrate that he was more interested in making the process as long and painful as possible, rather than gathering information about Hall's claim.
In 2020, Andra noted the district twice twice Allen's unprofessional conduct See Avatar Prop. & Cas. Ins. v. Jones 291 So. 3d 663, 668 n.1 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020) ] Rodriguez v. Avatar Prop. & Cas. Ins. 290 So. 3d 560, 564–65 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020)). opponent. Florida Bar v. Allen No. SC20-1470, 2021 WL 401950, at * 1 (Fla. February 4, 2021). We have recently noted misconceptions he made before the district court in another case. See Lopez v. Avatar Prop. & Ins. 313 So. 3d 230 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021). We believe that Allen's conduct in this matter requires an independent review and we therefore refer the matter to The Florida Bar for further proceedings.
Disputes are hard business. I feel happy to be among such hard-working and passionate lawyers and staff who try to help people against insurance companies with unlimited resources.
Amy Currotto texted me after the trial saying, “I might cry for Kirchers. They are such nice people. THANK YOU GOD. ”
Thought For The Day
& # 39; Stand By You & # 39; is about holding on to the one you love not only when it's easy, but being there for them during trials and letting them know that they are not alone.
1 SafePoint Ins. Co. v. Hallet 322 So.3d 204 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021).