A case out of Florida brings attention to the various legal issues that can arise in insurance disputes by discussing choice-of-law issues.
Home and business owners purchase insurance policies to protect their investments. Unfortunately, the companies behind these policies do not always fulfill their contractual obligations. In these situations, a policyholder may need to litigate the insurance company in order to receive the claim payment. These cases can be complex, as recently highlighted in a case out of Florida.
The case questioned something that seems basic-where the case should be tried. Defendants argued the case should move forward in New York while the plaintiff countered that the case should remain in Florida. This dispute is referred to as a choice-of-law issue.
More on the choice-of-law dispute
Choice-of-law essentially refers to the governing jurisdiction, or area that a dispute can be governed. In this case, Sun Capital Partners, Inc. v. Twin City Fire Insurance Company, Inc., Florida’s lex loci contractus rule applies. This rule states:
[T]he law of the jurisdiction where the contract was executed governs the rights and liabilities of the parties in determining an issue of insurance coverage.
Essentially, this means that the state where the “last act” for the contract was finalized is the state law that applies. Each side makes a case for actions that occurred in their state to constitute the “last act” that resulted in the creation or renewal of the insurance policy. The defendant claims that the last act was the communication of acceptance made from the defendant in New York to the plaintiff’s agent, who was also in New York. The plaintiff contends that the contract was made at the time of delivery of the policies from the defendant to the plaintiff in the plaintiff’s place of business in Florida.
Ultimately, the court finds in favor of the defendant. The court states that there is no bright line rule even though many precedent cases in Florida have stated that the place of delivery constitutes the “last act.” Instead, the court calls for a factual analysis of each individual case. In this case, the facts indicated that the contract was complete prior to delivery and that the last act occurred when the terms of the contract were accepted in New York.
Importance of Legal Counsel
This case provides an example of the importance of legal counsel during insurance disputes. It shows how in addition to determining if a claim is covered by a policy, various additional legal issues need to be taken into consideration – including venue. As a result, it is wise for those facing insurance disputes to contact an experienced insurance claims attorney in Florida. This legal professional will advocate for your rights, working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.
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