State Farm Fire and Cas. Co. v. Licea

Decision Date01 February 1995
Docket NumberNo. 94-1261,94-1261
Citation649 So.2d 910
Parties20 Fla. L. Weekly D285 STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Appellant, v. Elicer LICEA and Hermida LICEA, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Charlton Lee Hunter and Linwood Anderson, Miami, for appellant.

Hal Vogel, Aventura, Frankel & Finkel and Barry Finkel, Pompano Beach, for appellees.



The Licea's home sustained damage during hurricane Andrew. State Farm was their insurance carrier. A dispute over the amount of damage arose. The Licea's policy contained an appraisal clause. Pursuant to that clause the parties each selected an appraiser but the appraisers could not agree on an umpire. State Farm moved for appointment of an umpire. At hearing on State Farm's motion the Licea's argued that, based on this court's holding in American Reliance v. Country Walk, 632 So.2d 106 (Fla.3d DCA); review denied, 640 So.2d 1106 (Fla.1994), the appraisal clause lacked mutuality and thus was void. On the authority of this court's decision in Country Walk the trial court denied State Farm's motion. This appeal followed.

This panel is of the opinion that Judge Cope's dissent in Country Walk sets forth the correct rule of law, to wit: That by participating in an arbitration proceeding to determine the amount of loss suffered by an insured the insurer is in no way deprived of the right to later contest the existence of insurance coverage for that loss. See and compare Hardware Dealers Mutual v. Glidden Co., 284 U.S. 151, 52 S.Ct. 69, 76 L.Ed. 214 (1931) (legislation which requires arbitration of single issue of amount of loss is not an unconstitutional denial of due process or equal protection because arbitrator may only decide the amount of loss, all other issues are reserved for the court); Hamilton v. Home Ins., 137 U.S. 370, 11 S.Ct. 133, 34 L.Ed. 708 (1890) (a provision in a contract for the payment of money upon the contingency that the amount to be paid shall be submitted to arbitrators, whose award shall be final as to that amount, but shall not determine the general question of liability is undoubtedly valid); Midwest Mutual v. Santiesteban, 287 So.2d 665 (Fla.1973) (challenge to coverage under an insurance policy presents a judicial question which may not be decided by arbitration); Hanover Fire Ins. v. Lewis, 28 Fla. 209, 10 So. 297 (1891) (whether an insurer is legally liable or obligated to pay a loss is not within the sphere of arbitration, those are questions for the court to decide); Montalvo v. Travelers, 643 So.2d 648 (Fla.5th DCA1994) (the question of whether, under the terms of the policy, insurer was obligated to pay only one half of insured's damages was one for the court, not the arbitration panel); J.J.F. of Palm Beach v. State Farm, 634 So.2d 1089 (Fla.4th DCA1994) (although coverage issue is a question for the court, the trial court may not disturb an arbitration award under rubric of deciding coverage issue); State Farm v. Wingate, 604 So.2d 578 (Fla.4th DCA1992) (where the insurer voids a policy due to the circumstances surrounding the loss the initial issue, to be decided by the court and not the arbitrator, is whether there is coverage for the loss); Allstate v. Banaszak, 561 So.2d 465 (Fla.4th DCA1990) (in an declaratory relief action based on an uninsured motorist policy, coverage issues are to be decided by the court not the arbitrator); U.S.F. & G. v. Woolard, 523 So.2d 798 (Fla.1st DCA1988) (insurer's declaratory judgment action involved coverage question which is a matter for the court to decide, not the arbitrator); Allstate v. Candreva, 497 So.2d 980 (Fla.4th DCA1986) (it is the court's duty to determine whether there is insurance coverage and the arbitrator's duty to determine the extent of the loss); Criterion Ins. v. Amador, 479 So.2d 300 (Fla.3d DCA 1985) (question of coverage under an insurance policy is for the court to determine, not the arbitrator); Nationwide Ins. v. Cooperstock, 472 So.2d 547 (Fla.4th DCA1985) (coverage issues are for a court of law to decide, liability issues are for arbitrators to decide); Kenilworth Ins. v. Drake, 396 So.2d 836 (Fla.2d DCA 1981) (policy provisions that require the submission of damages to arbitration are binding, but questions pertaining to coverage provided by the policy must be adjudicated by the court); Vigilant Ins. v. Kelps, 372 So.2d 207 (Fla.3d DCA 1979) (it is well settled that issues concerning the existence of coverage may be determined only by the court, and, conversely may not be a subject of the arbitration process); Travelers v. Lee 358 So.2d 88 (Fla.3d DCA 1978) (notwithstanding any provision for arbitration, the question of coverage is a judicial matter to be determined by the court); Aetna v. Goldman, 346 So.2d 111 (Fla.3d DCA 1977) (question of coverage is judicial matter to be determined by court notwithstanding insurance policy provisions pertaining to arbitration); G.E.I. Co. v. Mirth, 333 So.2d 545 (Fla.3d DCA 1976) (under liability indemnity policy issues relating to merits of claim are triable at arbitration, but issue bearing on coverage is only triable to the court); Hayston v. Allstate, 290 So.2d 67 (Fla.3d DCA 1974) (question of insurance coverage is judicial question which may not be determined by arbitration); American Fidelity v. Richardson, 189 So.2d 486 (Fla.3d DCA 1966) cert. denied 200 So.2d 814 (1967) (counter claim which disputes coverage must be decided by the court prior to the court proceeding in an action to confirm an arbitration award); Cruger v. Allstate, 162 So.2d 690 (Fla.3d DCA 1964) (in declaratory decree action, not withstanding policy provision for arbitration, the...

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    ...Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 673 So.2d 989 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996), which certified conflict with the opinions in State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Licea, 649 So.2d 910 (Fla. 3d DCA), quashed, 685 So.2d 1285 (Fla.1996), Gables Court Professional Centre, Inc. v. Merrimack Mutual Fire Insurance Co.,......
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