Edward Sylvester Speaks with Law360 on Florida Supreme Court's "Disinterested Appraiser" Matter

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (January 20, 2022) - Fort Lauderdale Partner Edward Sylvester recently spoke with Law360 for an article titled "Florida Justices Set To Tackle 'Disinterested' Appraiser Debate." The article discusses the pending matter of Parrish v. State Farm Florida Insurance Co., in which the Florida Supreme Court will examine what it means to be a "disinterested appraiser" in the context of an insurance appraisal process.

According to the article, certain insurance policies require an appraisal to occur to resolve the value of a loss when a policyholder and insurer do not agree. These policies provide that the appraiser must be "disinterested" because a lack of bias on the appraiser's part is necessary to the success of the appraisal process. Thus, disputes concerning the appraiser's neutrality often arise in these contexts.

Mr. Sylvester told Law360 that the Sunshine State's highest court may broaden the meaning of "disinterested appraiser" in Parrish, and may also clarify the meaning of "independent" and "impartial" appraisers. He further explained that in certain matters, Florida courts strayed from precedent related to interpreting undefined terms in an insurance contract and applied a "more workable approach" by relying on the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes.

Similarly, Mr. Sylvester pointed out that insurers and policyholders alike are interested in whether the Florida Supreme Court in Parrish will consider the "common, man-on-the-street, dictionary understanding of these undefined terms" to include knowledge of the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators or other information outside common knowledge. He explained that he did not expect this approach to appeal to the Florida justices.

Mr. Sylvester is a member of Lewis Brisbois' Insurance Law Practice. He has represented insurance companies for more than 20 years in all aspects of insurance coverage/bad faith matters, including all levels of litigation and pre-litigation. Mr. Sylvester has extensive experience with a wide variety of commercial, professional, and personal policies with both surplus lines and admitted carriers.

You may read the full Law360 article here (subscription may be required). Read more about the Parrish case in our article "Spotlight: Property Insurance Case to Watch" from the January 2022 Florida Insurance Coverage & Bad Faith Newsletter.

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