Recovery of mental distress damages in bad faith claims in Florida. (The Price of Peace of Mind).
In Time, the Florida Supreme Court confirmed that mental distress damages were recoverable in a first party bad faith claim, and also established a three-pronged evidentiary predicate for recovery of such damages in bad faith claims against health insurers. In Otero, the Third District Court of Appeal interpreted Time to apply to claims against health insurers only, and ruled that a claimant in a bad faith action against a life insurer was not entitled to recover for mental distress.
After Midland Life Insurance Company denied the Oteros life insurance because of their national origin, in violation of both F.S. [section] 626.9541(1)(x) and a bulletin issued by the Florida Insurance Commissioner, Mr. and Mrs. Otero became virtually uninsurable due to health problems. Trial of their bad faith claim resulted in an award of the full benefit value of the two wrongfully denied life insurance policies to the Oteros, and an additional $400,000 to each of the Oteros for mental distress arising from the insurer's willful, wanton, and malicious or reckless refusal to insure. The trial judge vacated the Oteros' award of mental anguish damages because it was not supported by medical testimony, as required by Time. On appeal, the Third District held that Time was limited in its application to bad faith claims against health insurers, precluding recovery of mental distress damages in this claim against a life insurer. The Oteros' appeal of that decision is currently pending in the Florida Supreme Court.
The plain language of [section] 624.155(7) establishes the recoverability of all reasonably foreseeable damages which result from a bad faith violation. Life insurance has a unique emotional purpose, inseparable from its indemnity function: to provide the insured with peace of mind, knowing that his or her survivors will be protected from financial duress in the event of death. Emotional distress is undeniably a "reasonably foreseeable result" of the sort of violation of [section] 624.155 which was established in Otero. The Florida Supreme Court's ruling in Time that emotional distress damages are recoverable in a first party bad faith action is in accord with the weight of national authority on this issue. There is no basis in the legislative history, the language of the bad faith statute, or the Time opinion itself which would confine its holding that emotional distress damages are recoverable in first party bad faith claims to cases involving health insurers alone.
Legislative History Supports Recovery of Extracontractual Damages
The relevant legislative history was recounted by the Florida Supreme Court in Time. For more than half a century, Florida courts have imposed a duty upon insurers to act in good faith when defending their own insureds against third-party claims; they have authorized actions by both insureds and judgment creditors of insureds against insurers who have dealt in bad faith with their insured; and the measure of damages has always been the "excess judgment" obtained against the insured, notwithstanding that such a judgment was in excess of the insurer's contractual policy limits. See, e.g., Auto Mut. Indem. Co. v. Shaw, 134 Fla. 815, 184 So. 852 (1938); Thompson v. Commercial Union Ins. Co. of New York, 250 So. 2d 259 (Fla. 1971); Boston Old Colony Ins. Co. v. Gutierrez, 386 So. 2d 783 (Fla. 1980). However, with respect to first party claims, Florida courts had historically declined to impose a duty of good faith upon the insurer; the insureds were limited to actions for breach of contract; and the measure of damages was therefore limited to breach of contract damages, costs, and, where statutorily authorized, attorneys' fees. See, e.g., Life Inv. Ins. Co. of America v. Johnson, 422 So. 2d 32 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982); Hobbley v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 450 So. 2d 332 (Fla. 1st DCA 1984); and Baxter v. Royal Indem. Co., 285 So. 2d 652 (Fla. 1st DCA 1973), cert. disch., 317 So. 2d 725 (Fla. 1975).
In 1982, the legislature corrected this anomalous situation by enacting F.S. [section] 624.155 and requiring insurers to act in good faith at all times when dealing with their insureds, whether defending them against claims by third parties or dealing with them directly on first party claims. The timing and stated legislative intent of [section] 624.155 establish that the legislature was providing for recovery of extracontractual damages as a sanction for abuses by insurance companies which were threatening the welfare of Florida insureds.
Section 624.155 requires insurers to deal in good faith to settle claims. Current case law requires this standard in liability claims, but not in uninsured motorist coverage; the sanction is that a company is subject to a judgment in excess of policy limits. This section would apply to all insurance policies. (1)
Consequently, the approach taken by the bill is to provide a civil remedy, which may be pursued by any policyholder damaged by the actions of an insurance company that violate the Insurance Code. An insured who successfully sues an insurance company under this provision can recover the amount of damages suffered, together with court costs and attorneys' fees. (2)
Before the institution of bad faith liability, insurers "had nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by refusing payment of even meritorious claims." Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Lavoie, 470 So. 2d 1060, 1079 (Ala. 1984) (Torbert, C.J., dissenting), vacated on other grounds, 475 U.S. 813 (1986). Imposition of bad faith liability changed the measure of damages recoverable in an action by an insured against his insurer and altered the insurer's economic incentives. "The function of the bad faith claim is to provide the insured with an extracontractual remedy." Hollar v. International Bankers Ins. Co., 572 So. 2d 937, 939 (Fla. 3d DCA 1990).
Pursuant to [section] 624.155(1)(a)1, consumers were empowered to bring civil actions for damages resulting from unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices of insurers. In 1990, the Florida Legislature amended [section] 624.155 to add the following pertinent subsection:
(7) The civil remedy specified in this section does not preempt any other remedy or cause of action provided for pursuant to any other statute or pursuant to the common law of this state. Any person may obtain a judgment under either the common law remedy of bad faith or this statutory remedy, but shall not be entitled to a judgment under both remedies. This section shall not be construed to create a common law cause of action. The damages recoverable pursuant to this section shall include those damages which are a reasonably foreseeable result of a specified violation of this section by the insurer and may include an award or judgment in an amount that exceeds the policy limits. (3)
The Florida Supreme Court addressed the question of the appropriate measure of damages in a first party action for bad faith failure to settle an uninsured motorist's insurance claim in McLeod v. Continental Insurance Co., 591 So. 2d 621 (Fla. 1992).
[W]e hold that the damages recoverable in a first-party suit under section 624.155, Florida Statutes (1989), are those amounts which are the natural, proximate, probable, or direct consequence of the insurer's bad faith actions, and we reject the contention that first-party bad faith damages should be fixed at the amount of the excess judgment. The insurer in a first-party bad faith action is subject to a judgment in excess of policy limits if the actual damages resulting from the insurer's bad faith are found to exceed the policy limits. Such damages may include, but are not limited to, interest, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the plaintiffs. The attorney's fees recoverable shall also include any fees incurred in the original underlying action as a result of the insurer's bad faith actions. (4)
As part of the analysis which led the McLeod court to define first-party bad faith damages to include "those amounts which are the natural, proximate, probable, or direct consequence of the insurer's bad faith actions," the court cited Fisher v. City of Miami, 172 So. 2d 455,457 (Fla. 1965), for the proposition that "the primary basis for an award of damages is compensation [and] the objective is to make the injured party whole." McLeod, 591 So. 2d at 624-26. Subsequent to McLeod, the legislature enacted [section] 627.727(10), authorizing the recovery of the "excess judgment" in first party bad faith actions against uninsured motorist insurance carriers, and confirmed the original legislative intent that the bad faith statute was to provide for the recovery of extracontractual damages. Of course, legislative intent is the overriding precept of statutory construction, the "polestar" by which the court must be guided. Carawan v. State, 515 So. 2d 161, 167 (Fla. 1987).
The Florida Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Time Ins. Co., Inc. v. Burger, 712 So. 2d 389 (Fla. 1998), established the recoverability of mental distress damages in a first party bad faith claim against a health insurer:
The fact that the legislature has specifically authorized first parties to recover damages in bad faith actions suggests that it may have contemplated more than the recovery of the same damages already available in a breach of contract action. In view of the possibility that an unjustified refusal to pay an insured's medical or hospital bills could result in the inability to obtain health care, we hold that [section] 644.155(1)(b)(1) authorizes the recovery of damages for emotional distress in a first-party bad faith claim against a health insurance company. (5)
Insurance Contracts Unique; Provide Peace of Mind
It has long been held in Florida that a bad faith claim is an action ex contractu. Government Employees Insurance Company v. Grounds, 332 So. 2d 13 (Fla. 1976); Nationwide Mutual Casualty Insurance v. McNulty, 229 So. 2d 585 (Fla. 1969); and North American Van Lines, Inc. v. Lexington Insurance Company, 678 So. 2d 1325 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996). Indeed, in a basic breach of contract action, a determination of what damages reasonably flowed from the breach requires an analysis of what was in the contemplation of the parties at the time the contract was entered into. In Life Investors Insurance Company of America v. Johnson, 422 So. 2d 32, 33 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982), Judge Downey stated:
The basic rule governing the recovery of damages for breach of contract is set forth in the oft cited English case of Hadley v. Baxendale, 9 Exch. 341, 156 Eng. Rep. 145 (1854), which holds that the appropriate damages are those that arise naturally from the breach, or those that were in the contemplation of the parties at the time the contract was made. Application of that rule to commercial contracts, such as disability insurance policies, generally results in a limitation of damages to the pecuniary loss resulting from the breach. MacDonald v. Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, 276 So. 2d 232 (Fla. 2d DCA 1973). However, Kewin v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, 409 Mich. 401, 295 N.W. 2d 50 (1980) noted an exception to this rule in the case of commercial contracts concerned not simply with trade in commerce, but with life and death and matters of mental concern and solicitude. The Michigan court found, as have others, that the nature and object of the agreement may justify the allowance of other types of damages such as mental pain and anguish. Contracts [section] 1076 and 1 Restatement of Contracts [section] 341 also recognize this exception. (6)
Since bad faith involves more than a mere breach of contract, but also involves conduct by an insurer in violation of the Insurance Code, any analysis of the damages that should reasonably flow as a result of any act of bad faith conduct should also begin with a consideration of what the insurers sell to consumers, how the insurers sell their products, and why consumers buy the particular insurance product involved.
It is beyond dispute that insurance is a unique product and courts around the country have recognized this fact. As the Supreme Court of Oklahoma wrote in McCorkle v. Great Atlantic Insurance Company, 637 P.2d 583, 588 (Ok. 1981):
We believe that the purchaser of insurance does not contract to obtain a commercial advantage but to protect himself/herself against the risks of accidental losses and the mental stress which could result from such losses. Therefore, we think one of the primary reasons a consumer purchases any type of insurance (and the insurance industry knows this) is the peace of mind and security that it provides in the event of loss. (7)
In Agricultural Insurance Company v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, 70 Cal. App. 4th 385, 397 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1999), the appellate court discussed a ruling by the California Supreme Court in Foley v. Interactive Data Corporation, 47 Cal. 3d 654, 765 P.2d 373 (Cal. 1988), saying:
An insured seeks peace of mind and economic protection against calamity, the insurer provides that protection for a fee. Although the insured depends upon the insurer for protection, the insurer does not depend on the insured in the same manner. Insurers occupy the" "status as purveyor of a vital service labeled quasi-public in nature." (Id. at pp. 684-685). Thus an insurer's obligations can include a duty to place the interests of the insured on at least an equal footing with its own interests, because the "obligations of good faith and fair dealing encompass qualities of decency and humanity" similar to the responsibilities of a fiduciary. (Id. at p. 685.) Insurance contracts are usually adhesive in nature, since their terms are generally contained in form language dictated by the insurer. Critically, breach of an insurance contract places an insured in a type of dilemma not experienced by an insurance company if an insured should breach a term of the policy. (Ibid.) "[T]he insured cannot turn to the marketplace to find another insurance company willing to pay for the loss already occurred." (Id. at p. 692.) An insurer's breach can therefore frustrate the core purpose of insurance (protecting the insured from calamity) and leave the insured exposed to a disaster it is paid to avoid. The insurance company, by contrast, faces no comparable dilemma.
The Supreme Court of Washington, sitting en banc in Coventry Associates v. American States Insurance Company, 961 P.2d 933, 939 (Wash. 1998), reached the same conclusion:
As the Arizona Supreme Court noted in Rawlings v. Apodaca, 151 Ariz. 149, 726 P.2d 565 (1986), the insurance industry itself lends credence to the fact the insureds seek more than a bare promise to pay certain claims. Advertising programs portraying customers as being "in good hands" or dealing with a "good neighbor" emphasize a special type of relationship between the insured and the insurer--one in which trust, confidence and peace of mind have some part.
The same observation was made in Andrew Jackson Life Insurance Company v. Williams, 566 So. 2d 1172, 1175 (Miss. 1990), in which the Supreme Court of Mississippi quoted Justice Lint of the Oregon Supreme Court in Farris v. United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company, 284 Or. 453,479 n.4, 587 P.2d 1015, 1028 n.4 (1978), stating:
That insurers sell their product as being not only an agreement to indemnify the insured for certain kinds of loss but also to relieve the purchaser from anxiety concerning all aspects of claims is readily apparent in our society. One cannot watch televised entertainment for very long without being exposed to commercials for the sale of insurance which, for example, indicate that the purchaser will be in "good hands," that he will have the assistance of a troop of mounted cavalry, that he [will have] "a piece of the rock," or that "like a good neighbor" the insurer will be there. As such advertisements reflect, the relationship between insurer and insured does not merely concern indemnity for monetary loss [risk aversion] ... [I]t is common knowledge that ... insurance is obtained to promote peace of mind.
Extensive Authority Supports Recovery
Across the nation, courts have observed the mental and emotional features of certain insurance products, and the great majority of the states also permit plaintiffs in bad faith cases to recover damages for emotional distress. (8) In Employees Benefit Association v. Grissett, 732 So. 2d 968,985 (Ala. 1998), the Alabama Supreme Court wrote:
Certainly an insurance contract is not an ordinary commercial contract for profit in which mental distress damages are unforeseeable. The insured does not bargain for a profit; instead he bargains for compensation in time of catastrophe and for peace of mind. In this sense, an insurance contract is more akin to contracts of carriers and innkeepers, for which consequential damages have long been recognized due to the personal nature of the service. A particularly likely risk of breaching an insurance contract is resulting impoverishment or bankruptcy. Coupled with the fact that such breaches almost always coincide with emotional vulnerability (death, health problems, or destruction of a business or home), a very strong case can be made for awarding consequential damages for financial loss and even for emotional disturbance. See Restatement (Second) of Contracts, [section] 353, comment a (1982). Insurers, in effect, sell freedom from care and worry, and should be held to foresee the consequential damages flowing from their breach.
Otero involved life insurance, which provides a unique type of security, under which the obligation to pay benefits does not become executory until after the death of the policyholder. The actual value of the life insurance contract during the life of its owner consists in the owner's peace of mind and security from anxiety which would accompany fear that one's beneficiaries would be placed in financial duress by one's untimely death. The Florida Supreme Court has acknowledged this function in a case involving pension benefits.
The desire for security in the event of disability or during the declining years of life is of paramount concern to every conscientious breadwinner. The security he seeks is not only for himself, but for those who may be dependent upon him when he is no longer able to engage in active work and in the event of his death. (9)
Only by observing the unique societal function of insurance contracts and distinguishing between insurance contracts and commercial contracts can the courts protect consumers from bad faith by holding insurers liable for all the foreseeable consequences of their wrongful conduct. As early as 1921, Dean Roscoe Pound wrote:
[W]e have taken the law of insurance practically out of the category of contract, and we have established that the duties of the public service companies are not contractual, as the 19th century sought to make them, but are instead relational; they do not flow from the agreements which the public servant may make as he chooses, they flow from the calling in which he has engaged and his consequent relation to the public. (10)
The record in Otero establishes that Midland marketed itself and its life insurance as providing security, protection, and peace of mind. Given the unique nature of life insurance and the language of [section] 624.155 providing for the recovery of all "damages which are a reasonably foreseeable result" of the violation, we believe Time should be applied to permit recovery of emotional distress damages in Otero. The wrongfully denied life insurance applicant can be made whole only through the award of damages for any emotional distress which was the reasonably foreseeable, natural, proximate, probable, and direct consequence of an insurer's bad faith refusal to issue a life insurance policy.
Rigid Evidentiary Predicate
The Florida Supreme Court has acknowledged its duty to reconsider prior holdings to make sure our law keeps pace with changes in our society, United States of America v. Dempsey, 635 So. 2d 961, 964-65 (Fla. 1994), and to revisit rules of law which were found, on reconsideration, to be at variance with modern day needs and concepts of justice and fair dealing. See, e.g., Champion v. Gray, 478 So. 2d 17, 20 (Fla. 1985), in which the "impact" rule was modified, and Zell v. Meeks, 665 So. 2d 1048, 1054 (Fla. 1995), in which the court further receded from the "modified impact" rule set forth in Champion:
While fraud and the difficulty in evaluating psychic claims may continue to trouble the court system, an arbitrary cutoff for negligent infliction of emotional distress claims would have no remedial purpose except to reduce the number of claims. In fact, establishing an arbitrary cutoff for claims would contravene general public policy by denying persons with meritorious claims access to the courts.
The very same principles which underpinned the Dempsey, Champion, and Zell decisions call for the Supreme Court to revisit its holding in Time and recede from the strict evidentiary standard imposed in that case.
The three-pronged evidentiary predicate for the recovery of emotional distress damages in a health insurance bad faith claim established in Time is:
(1) That the bad-faith conduct resulted in the insured's failure to receive necessary or timely health care;
(2) That, based upon a reasonable probability, this failure caused or aggravated the insured's medical or psychiatric condition; and
(3) That the insured suffered mental distress related to the condition or the aggravation of the condition. (11)
The authors suggest that the Florida Supreme Court's imposition of such rigid evidentiary restrictions in health insurance claims was not well founded, and should be receded from. Such standards arbitrarily restrict who can recover such damages. The standards do not recognize the wide variety of circumstances where the conduct of the health insurer is truly illegal and egregious. For one example, if an insured is forced to deplete his or her savings, borrow money from family and friends, or borrow from retirement funds to prevent any delay or denial of important medical care, doesn't that insured still suffer mental and emotional distress by virtue of placing his or her, and potentially the insured's family's, well-being at risk? Also, the standard established by the Supreme Court in Time may force the insured to seek care from a mental health professional which otherwise would not be required. Finally, proof of the "aggravation" of an insured's medical or psychiatric condition would in many cases be elusive. It is certainly common knowledge that it is vital that any patient battling a severe illness must understand the condition and commit to the treatment plan. Having to fight the insurer at the same time can detract from the medical battle, but raising one's perception of this process to an evidentiary standard is another thing altogether.
Damages for emotional distress or mental anguish are recoverable in cases involving a wide variety of intentional torts including defamation, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, tortious interference with contract, and tortious interference with prospective business relations. No arbitrary evidentiary predicates have been imposed in these cases and the impact rule is not applicable in these cases, as it should be inapplicable to bad faith cases.
The authors propose the majority's concern in Time was well answered by Justice Anstead in his dissent at p. 393, when he said: "It appears that the majority has given the health insurance consumer a favorable interpretation of the first party bad faith statute with one hand, but has rendered that interpretation substantially meaningless with the other."
The court's concern in Time that health insurers should not feel constrained by potential bad faith exposure in their right and duty to other policy holders to contest illegitimate claims loses its force when the specific basis of the bad faith claim is considered. Insurers whose denial of a claim or application for insurance was ultimately determined to have been in good faith would be protected from any associated exposure for emotional distress, and insureds or putative insureds who sustained foreseeable emotional distress damages associated with denials of claims or applications which were ultimately determined to have been in bad faith would be compensated. No insurer would be punished for contesting an illegitimate claim, and no policyholder or putative policyholder would arbitrarily be denied recovery where a legitimate claim was improperly denied. See concurrence and dissent of Anstead, J., 712 So. 2d at 394.
By engrafting a rigid evidentiary standard requiring expert testimony by a health care provider to support recovery of mental anguish damages, it is respectfully submitted that the Time court departed from the legislative intent set forth in the statute as well as precedent which specifically limited use of expert testimony in establishing mental anguish damages. As the North Dakota Supreme Court said in Ingalls v. Paul Revere, 561 N.W. 2d 273, 282-83 (N.D. 1997):
An insurer's bad faith breach of its duties to an insured is likely to cause mental anguish: it is inconceivable that a layman, unaccustomed to the courtroom, fearful of the entire judicial process, who is also subjected to financial pressures from a refusal of the insurer to discharge its commitments, will not be subjected to stress, the precise effects of which are difficult to measure in exact terms but, which, nevertheless are present. John Alan Appleman and Jean Appleman, Insurance Law and Practice [section] 8878.55 p. 442 (rev. vol. 1981). Thus, in a case of this kind, damages for mental anguish may be "general damages"--damages for a harm so frequently resulting from the tort that is the basis of the action that the existence of the damages is normally to be anticipated and hence need not be alleged in order to be proved. Marilyn Minzer et al., Damages in Tort Actions [section] 1.01 (1996) (quoting Restatement (Second of Torts [section] 904, through miscites as [section] 940). As the Minzer text also explains at [section] 3.01[b], a claim for mental anguish is a classic example of a noneconomic, intangible loss.
Traditionally, the jury had wide discretion in evaluating and awarding these damages.... The only standard for evaluation of mental anguish damages "is the amount a reasonable person would estimate to be fair compensation." The determination of damages for pain, discomfort, and mental anguish largely is dependent upon the jury's common knowledge, good sense, and practical judgment and mainly rests within its sound discretion.
Prior to Time, the Florida Supreme Court had never required expert testimony as a predicate for recovery of mental pain and suffering. Where damages for emotional distress are recoverable, the amount of the award "is left to the discretion of the jury unless it is clearly arbitrary or so great as to be shocking to the judicial conscience or unless it indicates the jury was influenced by prejudice or passion." Albritton v. Gandy, 531 So. 2d 381, 388 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988). As further observed by Justice Anstead in Time: "To the contrary, this Court in Angrand v. Key, 657 So. 2d 1146 (Fla. 1995), specifically limited the use of expert testimony in establishing damages for mental anguish." 712 So. 2d at 394.
Justice Anstead went on to cite from another Supreme Court opinion:
Jurors know the nature of pain, embarrassment and inconvenience, and they also know the nature of money. Their problem of equating the two to afford reasonable and just compensation calls for a high order of human judgment, and the law has provided no better yardstick for their guidance than their enlightened conscience. Their problem is not one of mathematical calculation but involves an exercise of their sound judgment of what is fair and right. (12)
There is simply no basis in the bad faith statute itself, in the legislative history, or in Florida law for this court to impose a requirement for expert testimony as the predicate for an award of emotional distress damages when an insurer is found to have acted in bad faith in denying an aspiring insured the peace of mind and protection associated with insurance.
The authors hope the Supreme Court will reaffirm the recoverability of mental anguish damages in bad faith cases, without an arbitrary distinction between health and life insurance settings, since peace of mind is a fundamental aspect of virtually all types of insurance protection. Consistent with Judge Anstead's well-reasoned opinion in Time, we hope the court will recede from that aspect of Time which requires expert testimony as a predicate, instead permitting juries to rely on lay testimony, their own sound judgment and their common experience in determining the recoverability of such damages under a given set of facts.
(1) Staff Report, 1982 Insurance Codes Sunset Revision (HB4S; as amended HB10G) (June 3, 1982).
(2) Bill Analysis, House Committee on Insurance, Bill No. HB607 (Jan. 22, 1982, app. A, p. 14).
(3) FLA. STAT. [section] 624.155 (Supp. 1990) (emphasis added).
(4) McLeod, 591 So. 2d at 626 (footnotes omitted) (emphasis supplied).
(5) Time, 712 So. 2d at 392.
(6) Johnson, 422 So. 2d at 33. See also TDS Incorporated v. Shelby Mutual Insurance Company, 760 F.2d 1520, 1531-1532 (11th Cir. 1985); and The Natural Kitchen, Inc. v. American Transworld Corporation, 449 So. 2d 855, 859 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 1984).
(7) McCorkle, 637 P. 2d at 588.
(8) See S. ASHLEY, BAD FAITH ACTIONS: LIABILITY AND DAMAGES [section] 8.04.
(9) City of Jacksonville Beach v. State, 151 So. 2d 430, 432 (Fla. 1963).
(10) Comment, Extra Contractual Insurance Damages: Pennsylvania Insured Demands a Piece of the Rock, 85 DICK. L. REV. 321, 322 (1981), quoting DEAN POUND, THE SPIRIT OF THE COMMON LAW 29 (1921).
(11) Time, 712 So. 2d at 393.
(12) Time, 712 So. 2d 394 n.2, quoting Braddock v. Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Co., 80 So. 2d 662,668 (Fla. 1955).
Jeffrey M. Liggio was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1982 and graduated from the University of Miami in 1982 with a J.D, cum laude. He is a Florida board certified civil trial lawyer and is a nationally certified civil trial advocate. Mr. Liggio is a partner in Liggio, Benrubi and Williams with his practice being devoted almost exclusively to the representation of plaintiffs in insurance claims, bad faith, and a variety of personal injury and wrongful death claims.
P. Scott Russell IV has practiced as a civil trial and appellate attorney in Jacksonville since 1988. Before cofounding Dunlap & Russell, P.A., in 1995, Mr. Russell was a shareholder in Gentry and Phillips, P.A. His practice has been devoted almost exclusively to the representation of plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death cases arising from traffic accidents, medical negligence, and product defects, as well as associated bad faith claims.