Florida Lawyers Mutual and a Nondischargeable Judgment


One of the many benefits of Florida Lawyers Mutual is that you only have to pay a single deductible for your policy. The deductible is usually $500, but you can opt for a higher deductible if you want. This is especially helpful for small firms. You also get to choose the number of coverage limits you wish to purchase. This type of coverage can also save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

Insurer’s liability for West’s nondischargeable judgment

Aleta contends that the judgment stems from a breach of fiduciary duty and a fee dispute. While this claim would likely fall outside the policy’s “dishonest or fraudulent conduct” exclusion, a nondischargeable judgment would be covered. West’s conduct was deemed “egregious” by the district court, but it is unclear whether the exclusion applies to Aleta’s case.

Florida Lawyers Mutual, the insurer, in this case, issued a malpractice policy to West. The policy exempted any losses arising out of fraudulent or dishonest acts committed by West. While Florida Lawyers Mutual argued that West’s nondischargeable judgment was covered under the policy, the court found that his behavior was “fraudulent” and he was liable for $212,478.

Company’s liability for Aleta’s nondischargeable judgment

The Florida Lawyers Mutual insurance company has sued West and Aleta seeking to have the judgment declared nondischargeable. The policy limits liability for professional services to matters performed in the lawyer-client relationship or the trustee role. The policy specifically excludes liability for claims arising out of West’s fraudulent or dishonest acts. This exclusion is not met because the judgment is not dischargeable under the policy.

After Aleta’s June 2, 2011, meeting with West’s attorneys, the two signed a fee agreement that included the designation of West as her representative and co-trustee. While the fee agreement did not state how much West should charge, Aleta returned to his office four days later to pay the court filing fees. Aleta also sought guidance from her father’s attorney, Wigglesworth.

Its liability for Aleta’s nondischargeable judgment

Florida Lawyers Mutual sued Aleta and West in 2014 to declare that they are not liable for a nondischargeable judgment. A professional liability policy covers services performed in the course of the lawyer-client relationship, not matters that concern the attorney’s charges. Thus, the policy excludes the nondischargeable judgment. Florida Lawyers Mutual argues that the judgment is excluded under the policy’s “dishonest or fraudulent conduct” exclusion.

West also filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy more than a year later, after the judgment was rendered. Aleta then filed an adversary proceeding against West seeking to have the $237,258 judgment determined to be nondischargeable because West’s actions were fraudulent, misleading, or coercive. If West had acted honestly or prudently, it would have informed Aleta of alternative fee arrangements and allowed her to consult outside counsel before imposing the fee agreement.

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