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Macola v. Gov't Emples. Ins. Co.

Supreme Court of Florida

October 26, 2006, Decided

No. SC05-1021

Opinion

 [*452]  PARIENTE, J.

We have for review two questions of Florida law certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 1 Because both appellants have filed only common law third-party bad faith causes of action, we rephrase the certified questions into a single question:

DOES THE TENDERING OF THE POLICY LIMITS BY AN INSURER IN RESPONSE TO THE FILING OF A CIVIL REMEDY NOTICE UNDER SECTION 624.155, FLORIDA STATUTES (2005), BY THE INSURED AFTER THE INITIATION OF A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE INSURED BUT BEFORE ENTRY OF AN EXCESS JUDGMENT PRECLUDE A COMMON LAW BAD FAITH CAUSE OF ACTION BY THE INSURED AND INJURED THIRD PARTIES?

 [**3]  For the reasons that follow, we answer the rephrased certified question in the negative. 2 

 [*453]  FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This case arises out of a common law cause of action for third-party bad faith brought by Michelle Macola, the injured third party, and Inge Quigley, the insured, (jointly referred to as the appellants) against Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO). On May 18, 1999, Inge's husband, Frances Quigley, negligently caused an automobile accident that resulted in personal injuries and property damage to Macola. 3 At the time of the accident, Quigley was insured by GEICO under an insurance policy that contained a bodily injury liability limit of $ 300,000 and a property damage liability limit [**4]  of $ 100,000. On May 19, 1999, Inge Quigley notified GEICO of the accident and informed the insurer that both her husband and Macola had suffered serious injuries in the accident. GEICO assigned an insurance adjuster to handle the claim.

On October 19, 1999, Macola's attorney, Michael Roe, sent GEICO a settlement offer seeking payment of the bodily injury liability limit under the insurance policy, and property damage in the amount of $ 1,377.81. This offer did not result in a settlement agreement. Roe filed suit on behalf of Macola against Quigley in Florida state court, asserting a claim for personal injuries but not for property damage. GEICO assigned counsel to defend Quigley in this suit. On July 11, 2000, after [**5]  suit had been filed but before entry of an excess judgment, Paul Cardillo, Quigley's personal counsel, filed a statutory Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation ("civil remedy notice") with the Department of Insurance against GEICO. Quigley alleged a statutory violation by GEICO's failure to settle with Macola for the policy limits when the insurer had an opportunity to do so.

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953 So. 2d 451 *; 2006 Fla. LEXIS 2532 **; 31 Fla. L. Weekly S 690

MICHELLE MACOLA, et al., Appellants, vs. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellee.

Subsequent History: Released for Publication March 27, 2007.

Rehearing denied by Macola v. Gov't Emples. Ins. Co., 2007 Fla. LEXIS 622 (Fla., Mar. 27, 2007)

Subsequent appeal at, Remanded by Macola v. Gov't Emples. Ins. Co., 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 8293 (11th Cir. Fla., Apr. 11, 2007)

Prior History:  [**1]  Certified Question of Law from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit - Case No. 04-10436.

Macola v. Gov't Emples. Ins. Co., 410 F.3d 1359, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 10355 (11th Cir. Fla., 2005)

CORE TERMS

third-party, notice, cure, first-party, settlement, rephrased, claimant, handling, lawsuit

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Certified Questions, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Insurance Law, Liability & Performance Standards, Bad Faith & Extracontractual Liability, Elements of Bad Faith, Settlements, Excess Judgments, Governments, Courts, Common Law, General Overview, Remedies, Legislation, Interpretation, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Discharge, Release & Satisfaction