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Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rules that County cannot unilaterally settle wrongful death claim that exposes excess insurance carrier to liability

On February 3, 2017, in Hillsborough County v. Star Insurance Company, No. 15-13701, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Hillsborough County could not unilaterally settle a wrongful death claim above the limits of the Florida sovereign immunity waiver but within the coverage limits of the County's excess liability insurance policy without the consent of the liability insurer. The Court left open the question of whether an entity entitled to sovereign immunity status could on its own initiative as part of a settlement pay any "gap" between the sovereign immunity limit and the self-insured retention limit imposed by the excess liability policy without the need for applying to the Legislature for a claims bill, finding that under the circumstances of this case the proposed settlement expressly anticipated the need for a claims bill.