May 18, 2010

Resolved in Favor of the Innocent Co-insured

The issue as to whether or not an insurance company can deny coverage to an innocent co-insured based on the failure of a spouse to attend an examination under oath (EUO) was resolved in favor of our client, the innocent co-insured.

Our client’s home was burglarized by an unknown assailant. The client preformed all conditions precedent to coverage. The insurance company required that the husband, who lived at home at the time of the burglary and was the person who discovered the home burglarized, sit for an EUO. The problem was that by the time the EUO was scheduled, the husband was no longer living at home; and in fact a restraining order for domestic violence had been issued against him. Counsel for the client argued the innocent co-insured exception at the trial level, and we reasserted it at the appellate level.

The Circuit Court sitting in its appellate capacity overturned the trial courts summary judgment. Further, the reviewing court held that where an insurance policy does not expressly state whether the obligation to attend an EUO is joint or several, the ambiguity should be resolved as requiring the obligations and coverage to apply severally. The summary judgment finding that the failure of the husband to submit to an EUO was a material breach which barred the insured from recovering under the policy was reversed and remanded.  Our client was awarded appellate attorney fees pursuant to Florida Statute 627.428(1).