TORTS: PERSONAL INJURY: ATTORNEY’S FEES: PROPOSAL FOR SETTLEMENT; INSURANCE: SUPPLEMENTARY PAYMENTS: ATTORNEY’S FEES AWARDED UNDER A PROPOSAL FOR SETTLEMENT ARE COVERED AS COSTS UNDER THE SUPPLEMENTARY PAYMENTS PROVISION OF AN AUTOMOBILE LIABILITY INSURANCE POLICY: CONTRACTS: CONSTRUCTION: AMBIGUOUS POLICIES MUST BE CONSTRUED IN FAVOR OF COVERAGE

GEICO General Insurance Company v. Hollingsworth, ___ So. 3d ___, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D308 (Fla. 5th DCA January 30, 2015)

The appellate court, in a personal injury case, affirmed final judgment holding the automobile liability insurer liable for attorney’s fees awarded against its insured under a proposal for settlement. The liability of the insurer was based upon a provision in its policy that provided coverage for “additional payments” (traditionally referred to as a supplementary payments), including “All court costs charged to an insured in a covered lawsuit.” The court relied upon cases from the Third District Court of Appeal holding that (1) attorney’s fees, imposed as a sanction under Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.380, constituted costs against the insured, Tri-State Insurance Co. of Minnesota v. Fitzgerald, 593 So. 2d 1118 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992), and (2) a judgment for attorney’s fees “was a cost charged to the insured that was covered by the Additional Payments section of the [insured’s] policy,” GEICO General Insurance Company v. Rodriguez, ___ So. 3d ___, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D1937 (Fla. 3d DCA September 10, 2014). Based upon this case law and the rule of construction that ambiguous insurance policies will be construed in favor of coverage, the court held that attorney’s fees under a proposal for settlement qualify as “court cost charged to an insured in a covered lawsuit.” The court observed that “[the insurer] could have provided a definition of “court costs” that explicitly excluded attorney’s fees sought under the Offer of Judgment Statute.”

To read more briefs in the Torts category of the Kashi Law Letter, please click here, http://www.kashilawletter.com/category/torts/.

To read more briefs in the Personal Injury Law category of the Kashi Law Letter, please click here, http://www.kashilawletter.com/category/personal-injury-law/.

To read more briefs in the Attorney’s Fees category of the Kashi Law Letter, please click here, http://www.kashilawletter.com/category/attorneys-fees/.

To read more briefs in the Proposal for Settlement category of the Kashi Law Letter, please click here, http://www.kashilawletter.com/category/settlement/proposal-for-settlement-settlement/.

To read more briefs in the Insurance: Automobile Insurance category of the Kashi Law Letter, please click here, http://www.kashilawletter.com/category/insurance/automobile-insurance/.