Contractors have launched an appeal in a legal battle about part of a new Florida property insurance law which restricts attorney fees in disputes about claims.
The Restoration Association of Florida and Air Quality Assessors, LLC, an Orlando firm that does work such as mold testing and leak detection, filed a notice Wednesday that is a first step in challenging Leon County Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh’s Aug. 29 decision to dismiss a constitutional challenge to the law.
The Legislature passed the attorney-fee restriction during a May special session that Gov. Ron DeSantis called amid massive problems in the state’s property-insurance market. Insurers have long blamed litigation and attorney fees for driving up costs.
Judge Marsh did not address the constitutional question, but found that the named officials were not proper defendants and were not in charge of enforcing the law. Marsh cited a 2017 appeals court ruling, State vs. Francati, and noted that for state office holders to be considered defendants, they must meet three criteria: whether the official is in charge of enforcing the statute; if the issue involves a broad constitutional duty of the state; and if the official has an actual interest in the matter.
The judge said the named officials did not meet those requirements. Marsh’s order, handed down Monday, did not indicate which state officials would be the correct defendants. He also dismissed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and three other property insurers from the suit.
Florida’s property-insurance market has been in turmoil as insurers have dropped customers and sought large rate increases because of financial losses. When facing a problem with property insurance claims in Florida, Insurance Litigation Group is here to help you through any obstacles you face.