Can Florida Courts Affirm Appraisal Awards and Appoint Umpires? | Property Insurance coverage Protection Regulation Weblog


The property insurance coverage coverage requires a court docket to nominate umpires. Events sometimes file a petition to nominate an umpire after which a request to verify the appraisal award after the appraisal panel renders a choice. A reader of this weblog requested me to touch upon the next ruling from a current Florida appellate case:1 

State Farm Florida Insurance coverage Firm (‘State Farm’) appeals the ultimate judgments entered in 4 associated instances that confirmed appraisal awards set by a court-appointed umpire. State Farm additionally appeals the denial of its movement to overturn those self same umpire awards in every case. We discover that the trial court docket lacked subject-matter jurisdiction in these instances and that accordingly, all orders entered beneath, together with the ultimate judgments confirming the appraisal awards, are void.

Opposite to the preliminary place taken by State Farm on this attraction, subject-matter jurisdiction can’t be conferred by settlement of the events, and we discover State Farm’s argument that the language of the coverage gave the court docket the mandatory jurisdiction to nominate an umpire wholly unpersuasive.

So, how does a celebration appoint an umpire after which make sure the appraisal award is paid? The appellate court docket famous that the issue is the style of pleading, and all of the events need to do is right the substance of what’s filed to forestall this from taking place sooner or later:

Somewhat than file a breach of contract motion or a criticism for declaratory reduction (both of which may have been among the many ‘class of instances’ over which the circuit court docket would have had subject material jurisdiction), State Farm opted to file a non-existent reason behind motion to easily appoint an umpire. As just lately defined by our sister court docket addressing the same petition, ‘Florida Statutes describe many various civil petitions that litigants could avail themselves of, however a petition to compel appraisal with a disinterested appraiser shouldn’t be (but) considered one of them. Neither is there a acknowledged frequent regulation reason behind motion for this sort of discrete declare.’ State Farm Fla. Ins. v. Parrish, 312 So. 3d 145, 148 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2021). A yr in the past, our sister court docket concluded that this ‘would appear to be problematic.’ Id. Our sister court docket was proper.’

This case is a vital lesson for attorneys. Courts can appoint umpires and implement the appraisal panel awards—assuming the attorneys retained do their jobs correctly. 

When you’ve got questions on this, please contact a Merlin Regulation Group lawyer for the choices on how you can deal with instances the place the court docket goes to nominate an umpire. There are vital authorized issues which have a huge effect on appraisal. For many who say that going to appraisal is the perfect technique to resolve variations of worth with out explaining the problems of the umpire choice, I recommend you embody a reliable and skilled lawyer in that dialogue so the policyholder could make the best-informed determination. 

Thought For The Day 

It’s the little particulars which can be very important. Little issues make massive issues occur.

—John Wood

1 State Farm Fla. Ins. Co. v. Roof Execs Storm Div., 346 So.3d 163 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022).


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