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Florida First DCA rejects insurance company’s attempt to intervene in motor vehicle negligence case

On May 8, 2020, in Lexington Insurance Company v. James, No. 1D19-1954, the Florida First DCA affirmed a trial court order denying an insurance company’s motion to intervene in a motor vehicle negligence case. The insurance company’s insured, a trucking company, is one of several corporate defendants in the case. The underlying accident involved multiple injured claimants and all but $10 has already been distributed from the $1 million policy limits on the defendant’s policy, with additional coverage still available under a policy with another insurer. After the lawsuit was filed, the insured trucking company filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court allowed the plaintiff to continue with the lawsuit and ruled that any judgment against the insured that the plaintiff obtained in excess of the insured’s insurance coverage would be treated as a claim in the bankruptcy estate. The insurance company moved to intervene in the negligence case simply to pay the $10. The plaintiff countered that the only reason that that insurance company was seeking to intervene and pay the $10 was to relieve itself of its continuing obligation to represent the insured defendant in the negligence case. Quoting from Union Cent. Life Ins. Co. v. Carlisle, 593 So. 2d 505, 507 (Fla. 1992), the First DCA noted that “the interest which will entitle a person to intervene . . . must be in the matter in litigation, and of such a direct and immediate character that the intervenor will either gain or lose by the direct legal operation and effect of the judgment.” The First DCA concluded that the insurance company’s asserted interest of distributing its remaining insurance proceeds is not appropriate to support intervention because it is not an interest in the matter of litigation and is not of such a direct and immediate character that the insurance company would gain or lose by the direct operation of the judgment.