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Manor House, LLC v. Citizens Prop. Ins. Corp.

Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District

May 31, 2019, Opinion Filed

Case No. 5D17-2841

Opinion

 [*659]  EDWARDS, J.

This case involves the snail-paced resolution of insurance claims for property damage caused by a hurricane in 2004. Manor House, LLC, Ocean View, LLC, and Merritt, LLC (collectively "Manor House"), appeal the trial court's final orders granting Citizens Property Insurance Corporation's ("Citizens") (1) motion for partial summary judgment to prevent Manor House from pursuing a claim for  [*660]  extra-contractual, consequential damages, (2) motion for partial summary judgment regarding appraiser and umpire fees, and (3) motion for judgment on the pleadings on Manor House's claim for fraud. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the partial summary judgment regarding appraiser and umpire fees, and [**2]  affirm the judgment on the pleadings, but reverse the partial summary judgment regarding the consequential damages claim.

Citizens insured nine apartment buildings owned by Manor House that were damaged in September 2004 when Hurricane Frances struck. Manor House presented its claims under the Citizens insurance policy; following an inspection of the property, Citizens issued payments totaling $1,927,747. In April 2006, Manor House's public adjuster, Dietz International, asked Citizens to reopen the claim. In June 2006, Manor House presented another claim, this time for $10,000,000. After reopening the claim and assigning a new adjuster, Citizens made additional payments in September 2006 totaling $345,192. Then, in December 2006, Citizens' field adjuster informally estimated the "actual cash value" of the loss at $5,489,062 and the "replacement cost value" of the loss at $6,410,456. Meanwhile, Manor House's public adjuster estimated the replacement cost value at $10,027,087.

In an effort to resolve the dispute over costs, in March 2007 Jeffrey Wells, the apartment complex's new owner and Manor House's litigation agent, sent Citizens a letter requesting payment of the "undisputed" amount [**3]  of $6.4 million, i.e. the field adjustor's informal estimate of replacement costs, and demanding an appraisal. Citizens responded by challenging Mr. Wells' authority to act on behalf of Manor House and asked for documentary proof of his authority. Citizens also asked Mr. Wells to supply documentation it said was necessary to consider the requests for appraisal and payment, including articles of incorporation, certified ownership records, invoices for actual costs of replacement, and contracts for the work in progress. Mr. Wells responded with a letter denying that the invoices and other documents requested by Citizens were necessary to trigger an appraisal; however, he provided the insurer with a copy of his appointment as Manor House's agent.

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277 So. 3d 658 *; 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 8460 **; 44 Fla. L. Weekly D 1403; 2019 WL 2306107

MANOR HOUSE, LLC, OCEAN VIEW, LLC AND MERRITT, LLC, Appellants, v. CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORPORATION, Appellee.

Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by, Rehearing, en banc, denied by, Question certified by Manor House, LLC v. Citizens Prop. Ins. Corp., 277 So. 3d 658, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 12050, 2019 WL 3506707 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Aug. 2, 2019)

Review granted by Citizens Prop. Ins. Corp. v. Manor House, 2019 Fla. LEXIS 1788, 2019 WL 4955179 (Fla., Oct. 4, 2019)

Motion granted by, Request denied by Citizens Prop. Ins. Corp. v. Manor House, LLC, 2019 Fla. LEXIS 2470 (Fla., Dec. 31, 2019)

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the Circuit Court for Brevard County, Charles J. Roberts, Judge.

CORE TERMS

partial, consequential, replacement, estimate

Contracts Law, Measurement of Damages, Foreseeable Damages, Benefit of the Bargain, Insurance Law, Remedies, Damages, Consequential Damages, Types of Damages, Lost Profits, Business & Corporate Compliance, Breach, Contracts Law, Breach, Torts, Business Torts, Bad Faith Breach of Contract