We are talking about a Florida Supreme Court decision about Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and its duty to its policyholders. Unlike private insurance companies that act in their own interests and not in the interests of their policyholders, Citizens cannot be sued for bad faith.
When Citizens was created, the Legislature could have treated it like a private insurance company with a few exceptions — the assessment, for example, to cover the company’s losses. Instead, lawmakers wrote specific governing statutes that now may have resulted in an unintended outcome. Citizens is not a private company. It is a government entity and, so, entitled to the same protections afforded other government entities.
The protection in question here is immunity from litigation for bad faith claims practices, and state courts have disagreed about the law as written and the Legislature’s intent when the law was written. The Supreme Court was asked to settle the question and, so, closely examined the statutes for evidence one way or the other. As we said in our last post, the law allows for exceptions to sovereign immunity; it was the court’s responsibility to determine if liability was among them.
What the court found was that the Legislature had affirmed that Citizens must handle claims in good faith but had never specifically stated that bad faith claims against the insurer were included among the stated exceptions. Various statutes may hint at the exception, but the Legislature took the trouble to list specific exceptions. Because Florida case law has long adhered to the rule “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” — the express mention of one thing is the exclusion of another — bad faith claims are prohibited where Citizens is concerned.
Would this kind of claim fall into another category, though, that is a stated exception? We’ll discuss the court’s take on that issue in our next post.
Source: Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Perdido Sun Condominium Association, Inc., No. SC14-185, 2015 WL 2236719 (Fla. May 14, 2015), via WestlawNextShare