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Anybody home?

Anybody home?

June 25
08:14 2019

Anybody home?

In 2016, Penny Perlmutter sued her homeowners insurer, Olympus Insurance Company, regarding a claim she had filed under her policy. During the lawsuit, Olympus filed a request for its consulting experts to enter Perlmutter’s land to inspect her property. Days before trial and facing court-ordered deadlines to do so, Perlmutter had failed to schedule the inspection. As a result of this failure and other discovery violations, Olympus sought sanctions.

After a hearing on Olympus’s motion for sanctions, the court issued an order that involuntarily dismissed Perlmutter’s complaint.

In issuing the involuntary dismissal, the court explained that Olympus’s “long-standing quest for discovery beginning with the October 26, 2016, Request for Entry Upon Land has been met with either utter indifference or outright resistance.” And “emails were routinely ignored and court ordered deadlines were disregarded.” The court noted that it had issued an order that “unequivocally mandated that the inspection take place no later than July 17, 2017.” Yet, after the deadline passed, the inspection still had not taken place.

The court further noted that after it issued the order requiring inspection of the property by July 17, “counsel for Olympus made repeated and diligent attempts to schedule the Inspection, mediation and the depositions of any remaining witnesses.” But “[d]espite the urgency of the situation, these emails were, for the most part, totally ignored. In those rare instances where there was a response from [Perlmutter], it was to reject the dates proposed by [Olympus] without any suggestion of alternate dates.”

The court stated that “the end result was that the court imposed deadlines for discovery and mediation came and went … [t]hrough no fault of [Olympus].” Instead, “it appears that the client, [Perlmutter], must assume some if not the majority of the responsibility for the delays in obtaining discovery by not allowing or permitting inspection of her residence and by not being responsive to her attorney’s numerous requests for information and dates.”

The court also found that Perlmutter’s “failure to provide discovery has left [Olympus] totally

unprepared for a trial that is only days away. To cancel and reset the trial would only serve to reward [Perlmutter] for her flagrant disregard of court orders and encourage similar conduct in the future.” The court concluded that Perlmutter “filed this action seeking affirmative relief but has frustrated [Olympus’s] attempt to ready itself for trial and willfully and without justification violated this court’s Orders.”

Based on these findings, the court entered the order of involuntary dismissal. Perlmutter appealed.

On appeal, the court stated that the trial court’s findings were supported by competent, substantial evidence. Perlmutter’s actions caused prejudice to Olympus and showed a blatant disregard for the court’s orders and the efficient administration of justice. As a result, the court affirmed the trial court’s order in its entirety.

Perlmutter v. Olympus Insurance Company-District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District-February 20, 2019-No. 4D18-731.

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