639 So.2d 606 (Fla. 1994), 82649, Levin, Middlebrooks, Mabie, Thomas, Mayes & Mitchell, P.A. v. United States Fire Ins. Co.

Docket Nº:82649.
Citation:639 So.2d 606, 19 Fla. L. Weekly S 347
Opinion Judge:Author: Per Curiam
Party Name:LEVIN, MIDDLEBROOKS, MABIE, THOMAS, MAYES & MITCHELL, P.A., et al., Appellants, v. UNITED STATES FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellee.
Attorney:Richard L. Jorandby, Public Defender and Gary Caldwell, Assistant Public Defender, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, West Palm Beach, Florida, for Appellant.
Case Date:June 30, 1994
Court:Supreme Court of Florida
 
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Page 606

639 So.2d 606 (Fla. 1994)

19 Fla. L. Weekly S 347

LEVIN, MIDDLEBROOKS, MABIE, THOMAS, MAYES & MITCHELL, P.A.,

et al., Appellants,

v.

UNITED STATES FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellee.

No. 82649.

Supreme Court of Florida.

June 30, 1994

James R. Green of Levin, Middlebrooks, Mabie, Thomas, Mayes & Mitchell, Pensacola, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Charles Cook Howell, III of Howell, O'Neal & Johnson, Jacksonville, for defendant-appellee.

Page 607

C. Rufus Pennington, III of Margol & Pennington, P.A., Jacksonville, amicus curiae for the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers.

OVERTON, Justice.

We have for review Levins, Middlebrooks, Mabie, Thomas, Mayes & Mitchell, P.A. v. United States Fire Insurance Co., No. 92-2984 (11th Cir. Oct. 29, 1993) (order certifying question), in which the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that it is unclear whether Florida courts would extend the "litigation privilege" to actions based on tortious interference with a business relationship and certified the following question to this Court:

WHETHER CERTIFYING TO A TRIAL COURT AN INTENT TO CALL OPPOSING COUNSEL AS A WITNESS AT TRIAL IN ORDER TO OBTAIN COUNSEL'S DISQUALIFICATION, AND LATER FAILING TO SUBPOENA AND CALL COUNSEL AS A WITNESS AT TRIAL, IS AN ACTION THAT IS ABSOLUTELY IMMUNE FROM A CLAIM OF TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH A BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP BY VIRTUE OF FLORIDA'S LITIGATION PRIVILEGE.

Id. at 8. We have jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section 3(b)(6), of the Florida Constitution. For the reasons expressed, we answer the certified question in the affirmative.

The stipulated facts of this case are as follows. A personal injury action was filed against Daniel Ornamental Iron Company (Daniel Ornamental). United, the insurance company for Daniel Ornamental, failed to settle the case within its primary policy limits of $500,000, and the case proceeded to trial, which resulted in a judgment against Daniel Ornamental in the amount of $863,287. Thereafter, Morrison Assurance Company (Morrison Assurance), Daniel Ornamental's excess insurance carrier, retained Levin, Middlebrooks, Mabie, Thomas, Mayes & Mitchell, P.A. (Levin firm) on a contingency fee basis to bring a bad faith action against United for its failure to settle the personal injury suit within the policy limits. The Levin firm had also represented the plaintiff in the underlying personal injury case against...

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