Should an Insurer be satisfied with favorable, yet adverse, jury verdict even though the Trial Court erred in a way that precluded directed verdict in favor of the Insurance Carrier?

January 10

An insurance coverage dispute proceeded to a 6-day federal jury trial in Miami, Florida in November 2019. The Insured claimed that certain damages to engines on its motor vessel were covered under a marine insurance policy. The insured produced numerous repair estimates to the insurance company, ranging from around $100,000 to $900,000, for the same repair work.  The Insurer readily acknowledged certain portions of the Insured’s claim were covered, but disputed the scope and value of the Insured’s claims especially in light of the rapidly escalating repair estimates.  Ultimately, the repairs were not performed.  The Insurer offered to settle the agreed portion of the alleged loss during the claims handling process, but the Insured rejected the offer and filed suit.  During the claim handling process, the Insured failed to produce a sworn proof of loss as required under the insurance policy. At trial, our attorneys moved for a directed verdict based on the Insured’s failure to submit a sworn proof of loss. The court read the “proof of loss” provision to be ambiguous since it contained the conjunctions “and” and “and/or” between the “proof of loss and proof of interest and/or receipted bills in case of a partial loss” requirement. The case was ultimately given to the jury which found in favor of the insured, but awarded the exact amount which the Insurer offered to resolve the agreed portion of the claim prior to litigation. Post-trial, our attorneys were able to persuade the court to revisit its ruling on the Insurer’s directed verdict motion given the inconsistency between the evidence and controlling law.

26-months after the jury verdict, the court reversed course finding “[i]n retrospect and upon further consideration, the language of the ‘Notice of Loss and Filing of Proof’ policy provision is unambiguous.” The court vacated and set aside the jury verdict, and entered judgment as a matter of law in favor of the insurer. So, no, an Insurer does not have to be satisfied with a favorable, yet adverse jury verdict if the correct interpretation of the law would yield an even better result.

Tags / /
Share this article via Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn
< Back to All Articles