The Fifth District Court of Appeal found attorney’s fees awarded pursuant to a Proposal for Settlement (PFS) were compensable damages under the “Additional Payments” provision of the Defendant’s policy allowing recovery by the Plaintiff for Plaintiff’s attorney’s fees from Defendant’s insurer.*
Plaintiff Hollingsworth served a PFS on Kasam, GEICO’s insured, for $9,999.99, and Kasam rejected the proposal. The matter proceeded to trial where a jury entered a verdict of $16,603.24 triggering attorney’s fees pursuant to the PFS. The trial court entered a fee judgment against Kasam in the amount of $113,175.00. The trial court found Geico liable for the attorney’s fees under the “Additional Payments” section of the Policy, and entered writ of garnishment against GEICO after naming the insurer as a Defendant in the action post judgment.
The trial court found that the attorney fee judgment was covered by the policy language that provided “……all court costs charged to an insured in a covered law suit.” The Court noted that Geico “could have provided a definition of court costs that explicitly excluded attorney’s fees sought under the Offer of Judgment Statute,” but it did not. The Fifth affirmed the trial court finding the attorney’s fees were not excluded as the “all court costs” language of the policy.
There will likely be aggressive tactics serving PFS in same or similar situations, especially with 10/20 polices. However, other policy language is not as broad. I am curious as to how this opinion reconciles with standard exhaustion language in the insuring agreement of other policies.
Geico Gen. Ins. Co. v. Hollingsworth, No. 5D14-1437, 2015 WL 376406 (Fla. 5th DCA Jan. 30, 2015)
*THIS OPINION HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE PERMANENT LAW REPORTS. UNTIL RELEASED, IT IS SUBJECT TO REVISION OR WITHDRAWAL.