The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal quashed the trial court’s grant of a Motion to abate and ruled that an insurance company’s exercise of the right to repair does not trigger a stay in litigation. In Henry Robinson v. Florida Peninsula Insurance Company, the homeowner, Robinson, had an insurance policy with Florida Peninsula Insurance Company (“FPIC”) which gave FPIC the option to either repair damage or make cash payments in the event of damage. Robinson’s home was damaged and FPIC elected to repair the damage rather than make the cash payments. FPIC attempted to coordinate repairs through its Contractor. Robinson requested an appraisal from FPIC and contested the scope and sufficiency of the Contractor’s work. After this, FPIC denied the coverage since Robinson did not allow the Contractor to complete the repairs. Robinson completed most the repairs at his own expense.
Following, Robinson filed a complaint for Breach of Contract and declaratory judgement as to whether FPIC properly exercised its option, whether he was required to allow the FPIC Contractor to repair his home without agreeing to the proposed repairs, and whether FPIC could deny coverage after he disputed the scope of the work. FPIC filed a motion to abate and compel Robinson to comply with its right to repair the property, and the trial court granted it.
The Appellate Court found that it was wrong to grant FPIC’s Motion to abate because it effectively amounted to a dismissal of Robinsons complaint. The court considered that if Robinson had completed the repair, the abatement would likely be indefinite.
Furthermore, the court stated that Robinson may be entitled to dispute the amount of the estimate. The trial court departed from the essential requirements of law in abating Robinsons action. The action was remanded for further proceedings.