Wilson v. Federated Nat’l Ins. Co., 2007 WL 3355118 (Fla. 2nd DCA Nov. 17, 2007)
    Like First Floridian v. Myrick, posted on November 9, 2007, this case is another good case for insureds and their lawyers who fight for insurance proceeds which are due under an insurance policy.  Importantly, along with Myrick, Travelers Indem. Ins. Co. v. Meadows MRI, LLP, 900 So. 2d 676 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005), and Three Palms Pointe, Inc. v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 250 F.Supp.2d 1357 (M.D.Fla 2003), affirmed 362 F.3d 1317, this new case re-affirms the law that that courts must continue to confirm appraisal awards as arbitration awards and enter final judgment.  
    In  Wilson, a Florida resident insured his home and personal property through a policy of insurance issued by a Florida insurance company.  After his home was damaged by Hurricane Charley, the insured could not get the insurance company to pay the full amount of the claim (calculated by the insurance company’s own adjusters).  The insured filed a complaint against the Florida insurance company for breach of contract.  The insurance company asserted its right to invoke the appraisal clause of the insurance policy as an affirmative defense, and one month later actually invoked the appraisal clause.  
    After appraisal, the insured filed the appraisal award with the court.  The insured filed a motion to confirm the appraisal award and for entry of final judgment (which would entitle him to attorney’s fees and costs).  In the meantime, the Florida insurance company tried to pay the insured the amount it contended was the balance owed on the appraisal award. The insured rejected these attempts, and the insurance company ultimately deposited the amount into the court’s registry.
    The trial court denied the insured’s motion to confirm the appraisal award and for entry of final judgment. The appellate court determined the trial court abused its discretion, stating the appropriate course of action was to confirm the appraisal award and enter final judgment. The appellate court reversed the trial court and remanded the case, and actually directed the trial court to confirm the appraisal award and enter final judgment on the award to the insured.
    In support of its decision, the Second DCA relied on the Florida Supreme Court’s holding in Allstate Ins. Co. v. Suarez, 833 So. 2d 762 (Fla. 2002), and Travelers Indem. Ins. Co. v. Meadows, 900 So. 2d 676 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).  Interestingly, in Suarez, the supreme court held that appraisals should proceed in accordance with the appriasal provisions of the contract “rather than by the wholly different proceedings contemplated by an agreement to arbitrate.”  Suarez at 766.  Although Suarez did not specifically address confirmation of an appraisal, the supreme court approved the district court’s opinion, which affirmed the trial court’s Order which granted the plaintiff’s “Motion to Confirm Appraisal Award.”  Thus, although under Suarez the “fact finding” portion of the appraisal is not held as a formal arbitration procedure, the courts must continue to confirm the appraisal under the arbitration code.  After the confirmation, the courts are to enter final judgment.  Once judgment is entered, the court should award the insured attorney’s fees and costs (including appraisers fees) under Florida Statute Section 627.428.