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Broad and Sweeping Civil Remedy Notices Get the Axe

March 9, 2021

Fourth DCA Invalidates CRN for Lack of Specificity in Stating What Insurer Allegedly Did Wrong


Picture this: an insurer receives a civil remedy notice (“CRN”) from its insured alleging bad faith claim handling.  In an attempt to resolve the matter, the insurer reviews the CRN but notices that the insured has referenced 35 statutory provisions, and rather than listing any specific policy language or provision has instead referenced nearly the entire policy.  In other words, the insured provided no specifics and listed everything but the kitchen sink.  Where should the insurer begin when responding to the CRN? 

In Julien v. United Property & Casualty Insurance Company, No. 4D19-2763 (Fla. 4th DCA Mar. 3, 2021), the Fourth District Court of Appeal determined that such failure by the insured to “state with specificity” the applicable statutes and policy language that the insurer allegedly violated renders the CRN defective as the insured failed to substantially comply with the specificity standard of section 624.155, Fla. Stat.  The court also rejected the insured’s argument that it did not need to rule on the sufficiency of the CRN since the Department of Financial Services, who has the authority to return deficient CRNs, did not return this particular CRN and therefore must have concluded it was sufficient.  The court explained that the Department “may” return a deficient CRN but is not required to, and the court “may not defer to an administrative agency’s interpretation” but rather must decide the issue itself.  The court, withdrawing its September 23, 2020 opinion and issuing this new opinion in its place, affirmed the trial court’s dismissal with prejudice of this action due to the insured’s defective CRN. 

The moral to the story: catch-all CRNs are defective; specificity matters! See full case below.

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