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United States v. Pepper's Steel & Alloys, Inc.

ELR Citation: 32 ELR 20640
Nos. No. 01-11249, 289 F.3d 741/(11th Cir., 04/25/2002)

The court certifies to the Florida Supreme Court the question of whether an insured is entitled under state law to an award of attorney fees incurred in enforcing a settlement agreement against an insurer. A steel company sought to recover remediation costs at an allegedly polluted site from its insurer. After the insurer issued a settlement offer to the company, but before the company accepted, a Florida Supreme Court decision altered the insurer's liability under the policy. Nevertheless, the company accepted the settlement offer. The insurer claimed that the offer had been rejected and that the settlement agreement was not valid. A district court held that the settlement was valid. The insurer appealed, and the company cross-appealed seeking attorney fees. An appellate court held that the company may have a viable claim for attorney fees incurred in connection with its motion to enforce the settlement agreement. On remand, a district court held that under Florida Statutes §627.428, the company could not recover fees incurred after a settlement agreement. However, state precedent interpreting §627.428 is conflicting. Thus, the court holds that the question must be certified to the Florida Supreme Court.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (4 pp., ELR Order No. L-506).

Counsel for Plaintiff
William B. Lazarus
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Counsel for Defendant
Walter J. Andrews
Shaw Pittman
2300 N St. NW, Washington DC 20037
(202) 663-8000