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Florida First DCA rules that plaintiff in motor vehicle negligence case was bound by settlement agreement accepted by insurance company notwithstanding insurance company’s failure to provide policy disclosure “under oath”

On May 25, 2022, in Koung, et al. v. Giordano, et al. No. 1D20-724, the Florida First DCA reversed a trial court determination that there was no enforceable settlement agreement between an insurance company and a plaintiff who was injured in a crash with the insurance company’s insured, the defendant in the lawsuit. State Farm had sent the plaintiff a check for the policy limits after receiving a demand to settle the case from the plaintiff’s attorney. However, the plaintiff claimed that this did not constitute a binding acceptance of a proposed agreement, because the demand letter from the plaintiff also requested “complete compliance” with the insurance disclosure provisions of Fla. Stat. § 627.4137. The insurance company was allegedly noncompliant because the claims manager failed to submit the insurance disclosure “under oath” as required by § 627.4137. The First DCA concluded that because the claims manager’s disclosure stated that it was submitted “under penalties of perjury”, another Florida Statute, § 95.525, which generally governs verification of documents, qualified the statement as a statement under oath. Fla. Stat. § 92.525 provides that documents required by law to be “verified” by a person may be verified by the taking of an oath by an authorized officer or by the signing of a written declaration that “[u]nder penalties of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing [document] and that the facts stated in it are true.”