ORLANDO — Judge Roy Dalton of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida has remanded a bad faith insurance case back to the 9th Circuit Court of Florida.
The case involved a Florida man, Adrian Fridman, who sued his insurer, Safeco, under his automobile insurance policy’s uninsured motorist (UM) provision. After extensive litigation, Fridman was awarded damages against Safeco, according to court records. The case went to the Florida Supreme Court, which delivered a mixed ruling. Safeco then moved to have the matter settled in federal court, while Fridman argued the case belonged in state court.
In his order, Dalton rejected Safeco’s claim that the federal court has supremacy in jurisdictional matters related to bad faith claims. Dalton found that the Florida courts have the experience and ability to resolve a bad faith claim.
On April 29, 2009, Fridman, initiated a suit in the 9th Circuit Court asserting that Safeco failed to address its demand for damages under the uninsured portion of his policy.
Initially, Fridman did not state a bad faith claim against Safeco and instead asked the court to force the company to pay the claim. In 2011 Safeco tendered the limits of the UM policy. The court denied Safeco's motion to end the matter, and a jury then ruled in favor of Fridman for $1 million.
On appeal, a decision was rendered that the lower court had erred and the case was remanded back for further proceedings. The court also set aside the judgment and determined that Fridman was only entitled to uninsured motorist claims in his policy.
The court did rule that Fridman could amend his complaint and assert a bad faith claim against the insurer. Safeco filed to have the matter moved to federal court asserting jurisdiction and timelessness of the bad faith claim.
In the final ruling, Dalton weighed the argument presented by both parties and agreed that in the end the matter should be resolved in the state court. The case has been remanded back the 9th Circuit Court for further proceedings.