ORLANDO — A Florida woman involved in a car accident recently filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, accusing an automobile insurer of “wrongful and premature cancellation of insurance policies,” Joseph Flood, partner at Dean, Ringers, Morgan & Lawton P.A., who is representing the plaintiff, told the Florida Record.
Jennifer Stafford, the plaintiff, alleges that Alfa Vision Insurance Corp., Alfa Mutual Insurance Co. and the Vision Insurance Group LLC acted in common law bad faith and civil conspiracy, among other alleged charges, following a car accident on Feb. 2, 2007 in which Stafford’s vehicle was hit by vehicle driven by Jeremy T. Spencer.
Stafford was injured in the accident. Spencer was driving a vehicle owned by Arthur J. Downing Sr.
“Ms. Stafford was severely injured in the underlying automobile accident,” Flood said. “However, her injuries are not the subject of this lawsuit, which... relates to the conduct of the defendants.”
Downing filed the claim with his car insurer the day after the car accident, which was later denied, according to court documents. The lawsuit alleges that the insurers told Downing’s lawyers that due to non-payment of premiums, the policy had been canceled the day before the accident.
The insurers reestablished the insurance policy the day after the accident, meaning that it was not valid on the day of the accident.
“The lawsuit was filed seeking punitive damages to address the wrongful and premature cancellation of insurance policies as a general business practice in violation of Florida law,” Flood said.
Stanford holds the insurance companies liable because they allegedly did not offer Downing the traditional 10-day grace period required by state statute before cancelling the policy.
The lawsuit asks for a trial by jury and seeks ruling against the defendants, punitive damages, costs, interest and attorney's fees.
“Offers to compromise and negotiations are generally privileged pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 408,” Flood said. “Additionally, the lawsuit has only recently been filed and although the defendants have accepted service, they have not filed a response.”
Flood said he expects “the practices of the defendants will be held to be unlawful and an appropriate award of punitive damages imposed to deter this and similar conduct.”