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Florida First DCA rules that service of UIM complaint on Florida Chief Financial Officer commenced 90-day waiting period for service of proposal for settlement

On January 3, 2018, in Markovits v. State Farm, No. 1D17-1623, the Florida First DCA ruled that commencement of the 90-day waiting period for filing a proposal for settlement under Section 768,79(1) and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442(b) was triggered in a UIM case against an insurer by the filing of service of process on the Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Service of the complaint in a UIM case against a Florida insurer is accomplished by service on the Florida CFO, who then is required to forward a copy to the defendant insurance company. See §§ 48.151, 624.422, 624.423, Fla. Stat. (2014). Rule 1.442(b), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, states in part that a “proposal to a defendant shall be served no earlier than 90 days after service of process on that defendant.” The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees under Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442(b) because the underlying proposal for settlement had been served more than 90 days after service of the complaint on the Florida CFO but less than 90 days after the defendant insurance company received a copy of the complaint from the Florida CFO. The First DCA reversed the trial court’s order, citing Centex-Rodgers Construction Company v. Hensel Phelps Construction Company, 591 So. 2d 1117, 1119 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992), for the proposition that service on the CFO constitutes actual service of process, and noting additionally that Section 48.151(1), Florida Statutes, provides that statutorily authorized service on public officers is valid service for all purposes.