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Florida Federal Court Compels Arbitration of Coverage Dispute Under the New York Convention

The plaintiff sought coverage for property loss due to Hurricane Irma, and the defendant successfully moved to compel arbitration. The plaintiff opposed arbitration, arguing that the subject policy was unsigned and thus did not constitute a signed written agreement to arbitrate. As Florida law recognizes that an insurance application and the policy together “form the contract of insurance,” the district court found that the plaintiff’s signature on its insurance application “is sufficient to constitute a signature on a written agreement to arbitrate.”

The district court further rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that: “(1) it had no knowledge of the arbitration provision and (2) the Policy’s Service of Suit clause supersedes the arbitration provision or renders it ambiguous.” The plaintiff was instructed to carefully read the entire policy and “cannot now contend that it was unaware of the arbitration provision.” Furthermore, “[t]he Policy mandates arbitration and the Service of Suit Clause merely provides a means for the parties to go to court to either compel arbitration or enforce an arbitration award. Indeed, courts consistently read arbitration clauses and service of suit clauses as compatible.”

Gold Coast Prop. Mgmt. Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, No. 1:18-cv-23693 (S.D. Fla. June 14, 2019)

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About this Author

Nora A. Valenza-Frost, Carlton Fields, Insurance lawyer

Nora Valenza-Frost represents U.S. and international insurers and reinsurers in arbitration and litigation involving complex claims, coverage and regulatory issues across all lines of business.

Nora provides coverage opinions for claims involving several lines of business, including commercial general liability (CGL), professional liability, directors and officers liability (D&O), contractor’s protective professional indemnity (CPPI), errors and omissions (E&O), excess and surplus lines, property, workers’ compensation, business interruption, life and health, pollution,...