4th DCA Affirms Judgment Against Insurer

, Daily Business Review

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4th DCA
4th District Court of Appeal

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.

What's being said

  • anonymous

    Journalism at it's finest. Your article seems to lack a very important thing...detail and specifics. It seems to jump all over the place and really gives no information about much of anything. I don't see how a burglar alarm is relevant to an insurance company not paying on a fire claim. Maybe a fire alarm, but burglar alarm I hardly find relevant.

    I'm not on either side here, but if I'm signing up for insurance I'm going to make sure I get a copy of my application and policy to see what I was given, especially if I know the premium is much cheaper than I was receiving previously. Sounds like the insured was more concerned with the savings and not with how those savings came about. Negligence on both parts....yes

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