Florida Record

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Liberty Mutual wins summary judgment as court reviews definition of 'prompt' in filing claim

Federal Court

By Marian Johns | Jul 31, 2019


MIAMI —A  federal judge has granted Liberty Mutual's motion for summary judgment in an alleged breach of contract case involving Miami-Dade residents who waited eight months to file an insurance claim after a leak under their kitchen sink led to water damage. 

According to the July 9 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida filing, Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company petitioned the court for a summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs Moshe Lehrfield and Jennifer Lehrfield. 

The Lehrfields filed suit after their claim was denied by insurer Liberty Mutual. The Leherfields filed the claim eight months after a leak under their kitchen sink caused water damage to their property and was repaired by a plumbing company. 

Liberty Mutual argues they were "not afforded an opportunity to inspect the damage" or "source of the leak" prior to the repairs. The insurance carrier also argues the Lehrfields' policy requires "prompt notice" after a loss to the covered property.  The Lehrfields dispute the timeliness of their claim and argue that should be determined by a jury. 

The court agreed with Liberty Mutual. U.S. District Judge Robert Scola Jr. stated that while "no bright-line rule under Florida law" sets a certain time period to define "prompt," the Lehrfields provided no evidence to show the cause for their delay in filling the claim.  He also noted that Florida case law shows "shorter delays" to be "untimely as a matter of law."

The court also ruled that the Lehrfields did not "rebut the presumption of prejudice" and, therefore, granted Liberty Mutual's summary judgment in the case. 

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