24 February 2017
Category: Actus Curiae
24 February 2017,
 Off

Issue:

(1)  What constitutes irreparable harm when considering whether a court should grant a writ of certiorari?

Result:

The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the Trial Court’s ruling abating the action to allow for Florida Peninsula Insurance Company to repair the property.

Facts:

The insureds Felipe and Ana Hernandez filed an insurance claim for water damage to their home with Florida Peninsula Insurance Company (FPIC).  FPIC inspected the property and notified the insureds that FPIC would be exercising the option to repair under the policy.  FPIC named a selected contractor and gave the Insureds two additional contractors to select to repair the damages.  The selected contractor sent the insureds a work authorization form but the insureds refused to sign it.  About two months later the insureds brought action against FPIC.  In an amended complaint, the insureds alleged that FPIC breached the policy of insurance by failing to pay for the loss and sought declaratory relief.  In response to the amended complaint, FPIC filed a motion to abate or stay the action asserting that it had timely exercised its option to repair the property but the insureds failed to sign the work authorization form.  At the motion to abate hearing FPIC acknowledged that if the insureds believed that the property wasn’t adequately repaired the petitioners would have a cause of action against FPIC.  The trial court granted FPIC’s motion to abate or stay the proceedings.  The insureds appealed for a writ of certiorari seeking to quash the trial court’s order.

Reasoning:

The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the Trial Court’s ruling granting the motion to abate or stay the proceedings and denied the writ of certiorari seeking to quash the trial court’s order.  To obtain a writ of certiorari a petitioner must show that the lower court departed from the essential requirements of law which resulted in material injury that cannot be corrected on post judgment appeal.  The insureds argued that they had established irreparable harm because the abatement of their action effectively amounted to a dismissal of their amended complaint.  The Third District Court of Appeal disagreed stating that since FPIC acknowledged that the insureds would still have the remedy of bringing suit if after the repairs were complete and they were still not content that the property had been brought back to its pre-loss condition.  As such, there was no irreparable harm.

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