Florida Record

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Federal court rules against Mid-Continent Insurance in its bid for summary judgment

Federal Court

By Marian Johns | Jul 30, 2019


JACKSONVILLE — A federal court has denied Mid-Continent Insurance's request for summary judgment in a case involving a Florida couple who allege bad faith in an underlying construction defect lawsuit in which the insurance company refused to defend their insured builder Cronk Duch.

According to the July 16 U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Jacksonville Division filing, defendant Mid-Continent Casualty Company moved for summary judgment and to exclude expert testimony in a subsequent lawsuit filed by plaintiffs Hugh Carithers and Katherine Carithers as assignee of Cronk Duch Miller & Associates, Inc., and others. 

The case stems from the Caritherses' 2011 lawsuit filed against Cronk Duch over alleged construction defects in their home. After Cronk Duch amended the suit to include its insurer Mid-Continent, the insurance company argued it did not have a duty to defend based on the expiration date of a policy and the timing of the discovery of the construction issues.  A federal court then ruled that the "date of discovery is irrelevant" and Mid-Century was required to indemnify and awarded the Caritherses more than $98,000 in damages along with attorney's fees. 

An appeals court then agreed that Mid-Continent had a duty to defend and awarded an amended $26, 684.77 in damages which Mid-Continent paid.The Caritherses then filed suit in 2016, alleging bad faith and violations of a Florida statute for the insurer denying coverage in the original litigation. 

U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan denied Mid-Century's motion for summary judgment, citing the Florida Supreme Court's opinion that a jury should "decide whether the insurer failed to act in 'good faith.'" Corrigan also denied the exclusion of expert testimony by an attorney with more than 25 years of experience in insurance company claims as well as the Caritherses' motion to strike a mediation statement regarding their intentions on settlement. 

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