Monthly Archives: October 2010

Understanding the basics of equitable estoppel and using equitable estoppel principles to create insurance coverage in Florida

Most courts nationwide continue to adhere to the majority position asserted by the court in Republic Ins. Co. v. Silverton Elevators, Inc., 493 S.W.2d 748 (Tex. 1973), that estoppel may not be employed to expand coverage not otherwise provided in an insurance contract. See, e.g., Laidlow Environmental Services, Inc. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 524 S.E.2d 847, 852 (S.C. Ct. App. 1999) (estoppel and waiver cannot create coverage that does not otherwise exist); Martin v. United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co., 996 S.W.2d 506, 511 (Mo. 1999) (estoppel cannot be used to create coverage); Shepard v. Keystone Insurance Co., 743 F. Supp. 429, 433 (D. Md. 1990) (under Maryland law, “waiver and estoppel cannot be used to create liability where none previously existed, or to extend coverage beyond what was originally intended”); Fli-Back Co., Inc. v. Philadelphia Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Co., 502 F.2d 214, 216 (4th Cir. 1974) (same under North Carolina law).

Florida has joined the minority position creating or allowing coverage for an insured based on estoppel. Crown Life Ins. Co. v. McBride, 517 So.2d 660 (Fla. 1987). Read Full Post

CATEGORY: Florida Business Litigation Blog Practice Areas:

Using Florida’s Agricultural Bond Laws As A Collection Tool

As our firm represents many materials suppliers and site work contractors/subcontractors, we are often presented with payment issues that require us to pursue unconventional avenues of recovery to obtain payment. One area in which we have had a good success is through making claims on Agricultural Bonds through the Florida Department of Agriculture. According to Florida law, any person who is engaged within the state in the business of buying, receiving, soliciting, handling, or negotiating agricultural products from or for Florida producers, or their agents, must be licensed and bonded. The Bureau of Agricultural Dealer’s Licenses is responsible for the licensing of dealers in agricultural products. Per the Department of Agriculture, “Florida License and Bond Law is intended to facilitate the marketing of Florida agricultural products by encouraging a better understanding between buyers and sellers and by providing a marketplace that is relatively free of unfair trading practices and defaults. The purpose of the law is to help assure that the producers of products covered by the law receive proper accounting and payment for their products.” If you do business with nurseries, landscaping companies, or virtually anyone who deals in green goods and you like to get paid the money you are rightfully owed, this post should be required reading. Read Full Post

CATEGORY: Florida Business Litigation Blog Practice Areas: , , ,

Independent Contractor vs. Employee – What is your status?

By: Emily C. Williams, Esq.

Employers and employees, alike, are often unaware of the repercussions associated with how they are characterized in the workplace. When two persons agree that one will perform work for the other, the parties should be concerned with the legal significance of whether or not the arrangement creates an employer/employee relationship or an independent contractor relationship. Whether one arrangement exists can result in the following consequences: tax obligations — withholding, social security, and sales, prevailing wage rate obligations, indemnity and liability obligations for wrongful activities, insurance obligations and coverage issues and licensing. Furthermore, an employer is not held liable for the negligent acts of its independent contractors, except where the contractor injures someone to whom the employer owes a non-delegable duty of care, such as where the employer is a school authority and the injured party a pupil. An employer can also be held liable for the negligent selection of an independent contractor. Read Full Post

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