Skip to main content

Overlawyered Insurance Dispute Sheds Light on Attorney's Fee Issue

On October 18, 2011, the Miami-Dade Daily Business Review reports on the case of DeLeon v. Great American Assurance Co., where the Third District Court of Appeals held that a truck driver is entitled to attorney's fees after an attorney for his insurance carrier improperly questioned him during an examination under oath, thereby making judicial intervention necessary to resolve the claim.

The facts are as follows--the truck driver's tractor-trailer was stolen while parked at an interstate trucking company. When the police found the truck, it was damaged and nine tires were  missing. The trucker filed a claim with his insurer. The insurer required the trucker to submit to an examination under oath ("EUO"), as part of its investigation. Like many insurance policies, the trucker's required him to provide the statement before initiating a lawsuit. However during the EUO, the bulk of the questioning pertained to the trucker's unrelated criminal conviction and who he was living with at the time. The trucker refused to answer these questions. In response, the insurance company attorney threatened the trucker that he was jeopardizing his insurance coverage and invited him to withdraw his claim in lieu of responding. The trucker walked out of the EUO before its conclusion and subsequently filed suit.

The appellate court found that it was necessary for the trucker to resort to litigation in order to resolve his claim. The appellate court reasoned that the insurance company "decided to use the usual policy provision requiring a sworn statement as a license to make unwarranted and intrusive inquiries into the personal life of any insured who has the termerity to make a claim against it." The appellate court's concurring opinion broadened the exhortation to all counsel practicing within the state and warned that it will not tolerate improper conduct by attorneys in the handling of disputes, whether inside or outside of the courtroom. This is yet another decision cautioning insurers and their attorneys on how insureds should be treated.

If you are interested in receiving a full copy of the DBR article or of the opinion, please feel free to contact me at or


Popular posts from this blog

Maritime Law--U.S. Crewmember Required to Arbitrate Claims Applying Norwegian Law

In Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 15-14775 (11th Cir. Aug. 23, 2016), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a U.S. citizen, working aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is required to arbitrate his claims against Royal Caribbean.
Plaintiff, a United States citizen, worked as the lead trumpeter on a passenger Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The ship is a Bahamian flagged vessel with a home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Royal Caribbean, the operator of the vessel, is a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. After plaintiff became ill while working for Royal Caribbean, he filed suit alleging unseaworthiness, negligence, negligence under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, and seaman’s wages and penalties. Royal Caribbean moved to compel arbitration, and the district court granted the motion. This appeal presented an issue of first impression: Whether a seaman’s work in international waters on a cruise ship that calls o…

Maritime Law--Tour Boat Captain Implicated in Tragedy Off Nicaragua

As reported in the Daily Business Review on January 25, 2016, Nicaragua's police, army and navy will investigate the captain of a tourist boat and his assistant for the deaths of 13 Costa Rican passengers killed on January 23rd when the vessel capsized in bad weather. The Reina del Caribe, Spanish for "Caribbean Queen," was carrying 33 people when it went down Saturday amid rain and strong winds as it ferried between the Corn Islands, a popular tourist destination, off Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. The Daily Business Review article can be accessed here=> Daily Business Review article.

The government clarified on the 24th that the boat was carrying 25 Costa Ricans, two Americans, two British citizens, a Brazilian and three Nicaraguans. Previous reports had said there were 32 people on board, including four Americans. All the dead were Costa Ricans.

Nicaragua's naval commander for the southern Caribbean region said the boat's captain was detained because the …

Maritime Law--Lawsuits Filed Over RCCL's "Storm Cruise"

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ("RCCL") faces lawsuits by passengers accusing the company of negligently endangering their lives by letting Anthem of the Seas sail into a February 7, 2016 storm.  One class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami specifically states that RCCL should be required to pay punitive damages to passengers on its ship for "knowingly sailing directly into" a strong winter storm with 120-mph winds. It is also alleged that people aboard the ship were "subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered by hurricane-force winds and more than 30-foot waves."

The vessel reportedly encountered 100 mph winds and 30-foot waves, and RCCL said the storm was more severe than expected. RCCL later turned the ship around, and it returned to New Jersey on February 10. Anthem of the Seas’ port azipod reportedly burnt through “all four clutches” during the storm. RCCL reported four minor injuries among more than 6,000 p…