Summary Judgment Vacated in Bad Faith Case

This week the Eleventh Circuit, applying Florida law, vacated summary judgment in favor of the defendant insurer in a case alleging bad faith for failure to communicate a settlement offer. Hinson v. Titan Ins. Co., ___ Fed. App’x ___, 2016 WL 4169117 (Aug. 8, 2016) .  The insurer received the offer, dated December 21, 2007 and including among other things a requirement that the insured sign a declaration before January 10, 2008, on December 26.  The adjuster handling the claim reviewed the offer on January 2, and made multiple attempts to contact the insured — including by sending an employee to his house — between January 2 and January 4.  But the visits and calls were during working hours, the hand-delivery did not mention the January 10 deadline, and the insured testified that he never received the offer but would have accepted it.  There was no settlement, and the plaintiff obtained a judgment against the insured for almost $2 million.  The district court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment on the subsequent bad faith claim, but the Eleventh Circuit reversed, noting that “the question of bad faith is, as a general matter, one reserved for the jury due to the flexible and expansive nature of the bad-faith inquiry,” and that there was evidence supporting the contention that the insurer “did not handle Hinson’s case with the same degree of care and diligence [it] would have used to handle its own affairs.”



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