4th DCA Affirms Judgment Against Insurer
People's Trust Insurance Co. said Raymond Roddy lied when he claimed he had a burglar alarm, according to an appeal brought by the insurer.
People's denied an insurance claim when Roddy's house in St. Lucie County burned to the ground. But a jury awarded Roddy $766,258, and the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment Wednesday.
There were a few problems with the company's claims. For one, People's software automatically populated computer fields that included discounts whether or not applicants claimed to qualify.
In 2009, People's entered a consent order with the Florida Department of Insurance based in part on its low advertised rates and discount procedures.
A department witness at Roddy's trial testified conduct leading to the order included People's advertising rates that were unsustainably low and unlicensed agents giving quotes "based on every available discount."
Roddy's insurance application was filled out over the phone, there was no signed application, and Roddy never received a copy of his policy.
On appeal, People's argued the state insurance department witness unduly prejudiced the company.
"To prove how the application was made, People's relied on its usual business practice, where telephone agents always check application boxes to reflect information provided by an applicant," Fourth District Judge Robert Gross wrote. "To counter this evidence, Roddy was entitled to present evidence of a contrary business practice."
Judges Martha Warner and Spencer Levine concurred.
Roddy was represented by Michael Mortell of Michael J. Mortell P.A. in Stuart.
People's was represented by Alan Feldman of Lydecker Diaz in Miami.