Leaking like a sieve
Ivy and Glasford Robinson owned property that was insured by Safepoint Insurance Company. They informed theinsurer that a water leak on their prop-erty occurred suddenly on April 9, 2015. Safepoint denied the claim, charging that the Robinsons were attempting to commit a fraud on the court because, in her deposition, Ivy repeatedly testified that the restoration services company they used to remediate the damage from the leak was not contacted until days after the alleged water damage occurred. Safepoint contended that the Robinsons’ telephone records demonstrated that they were contacted by the restoration company on March 30, 2015, 10 days before the alleged leak occurred, and that the work authorization stated that the company performed services for the Robinsons beginning on the date of the alleged leak.
In dismissing the Robinsons’ complaint with prejudice, the court found that the Robinsons set in motion an unconscionable scheme intended to render the court unable to properly adjudicate the action on the merits. The trial found that, based on the pre-loss contact between the restoration services company and the Robinsons, along with inconsistencies between the Robinsons’ testimony and documentation related to the work completed on the property, clear and convincing evidence showed that the Robinsons perpetrated a fraud upon the court. The Robinsons appealed.
On appeal, the court stated that, although Safepoint had raised serious questions regarding the legitimacy of the Robinsons’ claim, it agreed with the Robinsons that the trial court erred by granting Safepoint’s motion to dismiss based on unauthenticated telephone records and an unauthenticated invoice, and without conducting the requested evidentiary hearing at which the Robinsons would have been afforded the opportunity to refute Safepoint’s submissions or explain any inconsistencies and/or omissions.
The court reversed the lower court’s order and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing.
Robinson vs. Safepoint Insurance Company-District Court of Appeals of Florida, Third District-October 3, 2018-No. 3D17-1431.