The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the decision denying Defendant, Mendota Insurance Company’s (“Mendota”), Motion to Compel Appraisal in Mendota Insurance Company v. At Home Auto Glass, LLC a/a/o Shabria Brown. Attorneys for Appellant, Matthew C. Scarborough and Amy Lee McConnell, argued in the Motion that Defendant was entitled to appraisal based on well-recognized Florida case law and the Mendota policy language.
The policy defined “loss” as “a sudden, direct and accidental loss of or physical damage to property” which the Plaintiff argued meant that appraisal was not required because there was not a dispute as to the amount of physical damage sustained by the insured’s vehicle. The trial court agreed, and Mendota appealed the decision.
In agreeing with Appellant’s arguments, the Fifth District Court of Appeal wrote that “Florida courts have repeatedly determined that when an insurance policy contains an appraisal clause triggered by a dispute over the ‘amount of loss,’ appraisal ‘necessary includes determinations of the cost of repair or replacement’” citing to multiple cases including the Florida Supreme Court case of Johnson v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 828 So. 2d 1021, 1025 (Fla. 2002). The Court further wrote that “[a] determination of ‘the amount of the loss’ necessarily includes determining both the extent of covered damage and the monetary amount necessary to repair or replace the damaged property.” The Court also rejected Appellees’ arguments regarding ambiguities in the policy, as well as the “tipsy coachman” arguments stating that an appellate court should not employ the rule where the trial court has not made the necessary factual findings on the issue. Finally, the Court rejected Appellees’ argument that the appraisal provision violates the public policy behind section 627.428.
This decision presents new and important binding case law concerning the scope and definition of “amount of loss” in appraisal provisions and expressly rejects the argument repeatedly and incorrectly utilized in response to a motion to compel appraisal concerning section 627.428.