THERE CAN BE AN “OTHER INSURANCE” EXCLUSION IN YOUR AUTOMOBILE POLICY

shutterstock_403780030There is exclusionary language in all insurance policies (as you know) that can operate to bar coverage.  In a recent case example, a company performed maintenance and construction services and had a company automobile liability insurance policy.  The policy, however, excluded from coverage automobiles where there was OTHER INSURANCE available that afforded SIMILAR COVERAGE.  One of the company’s members got into an automobile accident with his personal vehicle which resulted in the company being sued in a personal injury action.  The member had a personal automobile liability insurance policy that insured the vehicle.  The company’s policy had significantly higher limits of insurance than the member’s policy.  

 

Unfortunately, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held the company’s insurer was NOT required to defend or indemnify the insured-company in the personal injury action because of the exclusionary language in the company’s policy.  In particular, the company’s policy did not apply because the member’s personal automobile liability insurance policy (other insurance) insured the same risk (afforded similar coverage); it did not matter that the limits of liability in the policies were different.  (For more information on this case, click here.)  

 

This case, although dealing with an automobile liability insurance policy, discusses exclusionary language in a policy that deals with other insurance available that provides the same or similar coverage (again, in this case the personal automobile liability insurance policy that covered the member’s vehicle applied which barred coverage under the company’s policy).

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

DON’T WAIVE YOUR RIGHT TO ARBITRATE (UNLESS YOU WANT TO!)

shutterstock_348755237Does your construction contract require you to arbitrate (instead of litigate) disputes arising out of the contract?  If so, and you want to arbitrate, you do NOT want to do anything inconsistent or adverse with your right to arbitrate. Arbitration can be waived and you do not want arbitration to be waived if you believe this is the best forum to resolve your construction dispute.  For instance, actively participating in a lawsuit through the prosecution or defense of issues in the lawsuit is certainly inconsistent with your right to arbitrate.  This will result in a waiver of your right to compel arbitration.  

 

In a non-construction dispute—a dispute involving a law firm and its former partner—the law firm sued the partner.  Chaikin v. Parker Waichman LLP, 42 Fla. L. Weekly D2165b (Fla. 2d DCA 2017).  There was a partnership agreement that required disputes to be resolved by arbitration.  The law firm sued the partner claiming he violated a previously entered employment agreement that did not require arbitration.   When the partner counterclaimed, the law firm claimed that the counterclaim must be compelled to arbitration because the counterclaim arose out of the partnership agreement that required arbitration.  Guess what?  The trial court actually compelled the counterclaim to arbitration!  Crazy!  Clearly, any employment agreement and partnership agreement were intertwined such that the dispute would involve the same set of facts and any claims would have a significant relationship to the partnership agreement. 

 

On appeal, the Second District recognized this craziness and the significant relationship between any claims under an employment agreement and those under the partnership agreement:

 

[A] significant relationship is described to exist between an arbitration provision and a claim if there is a “contractual nexus” between the claim and the contract. A contractual nexus exists between a claim and a contract if the claim presents circumstances in which the resolution of the disputed issue requires either reference to, or construction of, a portion of the contract. More specifically, a claim has a nexus to a contract and arises from the terms of the contract if it emanates from an inimitable duty created by the parties’ unique contractual relationship.

Chaikin quoting Olson v. Fla. Living Options, Inc., 210 So.3d 107, 111 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) 

 

Accordingly, the Second District held: what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  The law firm, by filing suit notwithstanding the arbitration provision in the partnership agreement, waived its right to compel arbitration of the counterclaim.  Chaikin, supra (explaining that the law firm initiating the lawsuit was adverse to its contention that its former partner’s counterclaims, predicated upon the same partnership agreement, be compelled to arbitration).  Do not waive your right to arbitrate (unless you want to!).  

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

INTERIOR DESIGNER LICENSURE

shutterstock_132690164An interior designer that provides residential interior design services does NOT need to be registered or licensed with the state.   On this point, Florida Statute s. 481.229(6)(a) specifies:

 

 

 

(6) This part shall not apply to:

(a) A person who performs interior design services or interior decorator services for any residential application, provided that such person does not advertise as, or represent himself or herself as, an interior designer. For purposes of this paragraph, “residential applications” includes all types of residences, including, but not limited to, residence buildings, single-family homes, multifamily homes, townhouses, apartments, condominiums, and domestic outbuildings appurtenant to one-family or two-family residences. However, “residential applications” does not include common areas associated with instances of multiple-unit dwelling applications.

 

The italicized, bolded language above reflects that because a residential interior designer does not need to be registered or licensed with the state, they are not allowed to advertise as an interior designer.  Well, this is a pretty big deal to residential interior designers.  A federal court has stated that this is violative of the First Amendment.  Based on this ruling, a residential interior designer may advertise himself/herself as an interior designer notwithstanding the language in the statute and this is how Florida’s Board of Architecture and Interior Design will enforce this statute.  This is good news for a residential interior designer. 

 

If an interior designer is providing nonresidential interior design services (such as in a commercial context or dealing with common areas in a building), they do need to be registered or licensed with the state.   This doesn’t necessarily impact the advertisement aspect, but it does impact as to whether the interior designer is required to be registered or licensed in order to perform interior design services.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

NEGLIGENCE OF PROPERTY APPRAISER

shutterstock_431491873A new appellate decision came out discussing the statute of limitations associated with a negligence claim against a property appraiser.   In this case, Llano Financing Group, LLC v. Petit, 42 Fla. L. Weekly D2071a (Fla. 1st DCA 2017), the court held that the four year statute of limitations for negligence claims commences when the lender relied on the appraisal to fund the loan.   The statute of limitations does not commence years later when the property is ultimately sold at a loss.  Oh no.  Once the lender receives the appraisal and funds the loan, the statute of limitations for the negligence claim begins.  Applying this rationale in other contexts, the statute of limitations to sue a property appraiser in negligence would commence once an appraisal is received and relied on.   This is best explained by the following hypothetical footnoted by the court:

 

Consider this example: An appraiser negligently appraises a $100,000 house at $150,000. A buyer reasonably relies on that negligent appraisal and buys the $100,000 house for $150,000. The buyer’s damages ($50,000) are easily determined immediately after the sale. Those damages would be the same whether the buyer promptly sold the home at a loss, lived in it forever, or sold it for $200,000 after decades of market appreciation.

Llano Financing Group, supra, n. 3.

 

 

If you feel like you suffered a loss at the hands of a negligent appraisal, make sure you consult counsel.  Based on the court’s decision in this case, the lender’s statute of limitations expired.  Make sure this does not happen to you.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.