Under Florida law, the court granted the insurer’s motion in limine to exclude evidence of bad faith until a breach of the policy was established, but denied the motion insofar as it sought to exclude evidence of bad faith claims handling. Monterey at Malibu Bay Condo. Ass’n v. Empire Indem. Ins. Co., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEIXS 68013 (S.D. Fla. April 13, 2022).
The Condominium Association filed suit for declaratory relief after its property was damaged by Hurricane Irma. The insurer, Empire Indemnity Insurance Company, made a partial payment, but the AOAO alleged Empire breached the contract by failing to fully indemnify the AOAO. Before trial, Empire moved to preclude the AOAO from introducing evidence and testimony alleging bad faith conduct. It also sought to exclude references to its “bad faith” or “good faith” conduct because such references could confuse the jury and unduly prejudice Empire.
The court agreed that such testimony should be precluded. In Florida, a bad faith action was not ripe until after the coverage action was resolved. This case was not a bad faith action but a coverage action. Therefore, evidence of bad faith conduct was inadmissible.
However, any evidence that was relevant to both the AOAO’s breach of contract claim and a potential bad faith claim was admissible. References, testimony, and evidence regarding Empire’s handling of the coverage claim that could also be relevant to a bad faith action were admissible.
Finally, the court agreed that reference, testimony, and evidence of personal opinions regarding insurance companies and why people purchase insurance was inadmissible.