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Florida Fourth DCA affirms dismissal of bad faith lawsuit by insured against property insurer after concluding that plaintiff’s civil remedy notice lacked sufficient specificity

On September 23, 2020, in Julien v. United Property & Casualty Insurance Company, No. 4D19-2763, the Florida Fourth DCA affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s bad faith case against his homeowner’s insurance company. The plaintiff had filed a civil remedy notice against the defendant after the defendant requested an examination of the plaintiff under oath prior to paying a claim for alleged fire damage. Soon after, the plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit alleging statutory bad faith. The defendant then moved to dismiss the suit, claiming the civil remedy notice was facially invalid because instead of specifically claiming the alleged violation, the plaintiff listed every statutory provision and every policy provision available to him as the insured. The Fourth DCA observed that the plain language of Fla. Stat. § 624.155(3)(b) instructs the policyholder to “state with specificity” information in the notice; to specify “language of the statute, which the authorized insurer allegedly violated”; and to “[r]eference . . . specific policy language that is relevant to the violation, if any.” The Court noted that the federal district courts for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida have found similar civil remedy notices fatally vague. See Fox v. Starr Indem. & Liab. Co., No. 8:16-CV-3254-T-23MAP, 2017 WL 1541294, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 28, 2017); Pin-Pon Corp. v. Landmark Am. Ins. Co., No. 20-CV-14013-MIDDLEBROOKS, 2020 WL 3038576, at *2 (S.D. Fla. June 5, 2020).