Enforcement of Arbitration Agreement
Gold Coast Prop. Mgmt. Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, No. 18-CV-23693, 2019 WL 2482058, (S.D. Fla. June 14, 2019), appeal dismissed sub nom. Gold Coast Prop. Mgmt., Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London, No. 19-12720-EE, 2019 WL 5328821 (11th Cir. Sept. 6, 2019)
This matter involved a dispute over the value of a Hurricane Irma loss at a nine-building commercial building complex in Miami. Countering Gold Coast Property Management’s proof of loss of $2,851,890, the market of insurers estimated only $568,072 in value.
After the insured filed suit in state court, the insurers removed the action to federal court and also demanded arbitration under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. The insured opposed both remand and arbitration, arguing that there was no signed written agreement to arbitrate and that the service of suit clause in the policy conflicted with the arbitration clause of the policy, creating an ambiguity.
The district court granted the insurers’ motion to stay the action and compel arbitration and denied the plaintiff’s motion to remand, holding that the insured’s signature on the application for insurance, which is considered part of the policy under Florida law, was sufficient to constitute a signature on a written agreement to arbitrate. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the service of suit clause superseded the arbitration provision and/or rendered it ambiguous. Instead, it found the service of suit clause and arbitration provision to be compatible, noting “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.” The Eleventh Circuit also dismissed plaintiff’s subsequent appeal on the ground that the order staying the case was interlocutory and not appealable.