Since the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in State Farm v. Curran, practitioners and courts alike have been trying to sort out exactly how far the opinion goes. While many argue that Curran only applies to independent medical examinations, others point out that the Fifth District Court of Appeal specifically certified conflict with an earlier decision dealing with the application of the Examination Under Oath provision.
The latest case to come out of the Florida appellate courts on this topic is Solano v. State Farm Florida Insurance Company. In this case, the policyholder appealed a final judgment finding that it had failed to sufficiently comply with the policy conditions precedent by failing to sufficiently provide answers during an Examination Under Oath.
While the Fourth District Court of Appeal stated that it did not believe that Curran would have any application to the facts of the case, regardless of the breadth of the holding, the court did affirm longstanding Florida law that requires a finding of full noncompliance before coverage is forfeited.
In Solano, the policyholders were asked to submit to an Examination Under Oath regarding their re-opened claim. Specifically, State Farm requested that Dr. Solano and his wife be examined by its attorney. Dr. Solano complied with this request, but after the conclusion of his EUO he objected to his wife being examined stating he was concerned with the amount of mental stress that it would but her under.
State Farm denied the claim alleging that Dr. and Mrs. Solano had failed to provide a proper Examination Under Oath in breach of the insurance policy. The appellate court disagreed, however, finding that material questions prevented a finding of breach based on the facts presented.
Citing numerous previous decisions, the court noted that Florida law has long held that, while a complete refusal to provide an Examination Under Oath may be a material breach of the insurance contract, a partial failure created a question of fact that should be resolved by a jury. In keeping with its previous decisions, the Court remanded the case back to the trail court for further proceedings.
Compliance with policy conditions continues to be a hot button issue in this state. For now at least, there seem to be as many questions raised by the Curran decision as were answered. Until the Florida Supreme Court clarifies the holding and its application outside of the compulsory medical examination context, it appears that debate will continue.