Thom Glasson of the Fort Lauderdale office of Kirwan Spellacy & Danner, P.A. obtained a jury verdict following a three day trial in Miami-Dade County where Plaintiffs, a husband and wife, insureds of State Farm Florida, had obtained a personal articles policy covering a large amount of luxury watches and jewelry. The Plaintiffs reported the jewelry stolen in a burglary which took place at a brother of the insured's residence in Miami Heights, Florida.
State Farm flagged the claim for rescission of policy. Further investigation in SIU revealed that the wife Plaintiff had two prior claims, a burglary and a homeowners' fire claim, within the three-year period prior to her application for coverage of the jewelry. She also denied that she had any prior claims on the application, but admitted the existence of the claims after the loss was reported and claimed that the agent's office "never asked."
Additional circumstantial evidence lead State Farm to deny the claim for fraud, and to mount a rescission defense based upon the Plaintiff's material misrepresentation regarding prior claims.
In crafting the issues for the jury's determination, Thom Glasson, Co-Chair of the Firm's SIU and Fraud practice group, asked the jury to first make a finding as to whether or not there was, in fact, a theft prior to reaching the issue of material misrepresentation.
After 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned with the finding that the Plaintiffs had not proven that a theft had actually occurred -- obviating the need to consider material misrepresentation.