Although the focus of most subrogation cases is usually on proving liability, determining the appropriate measure of damages is just as important. Sometimes turning on a nuanced argument for recoverability, an adverse holding can significantly boost or reduce the total damages in a case. The Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District (Court) recently decided such an issue in a case involving subrogation, holding that the defendants owed much more than they originally anticipated.
In Five Solas v. Ram Realty Servs., No. 4D19-2211 2021, 2021 Fla. App. LEXIS 7546, the Court reviewed the appropriate setoff in damages that the defendants were entitled to when measuring the recoverable damages. The Court reversed the lower court’s holding, which held that the defendants were entitled to a setoff that limited the jury’s award to $104,481.75. Instead the Court held that the defendants were only entitled to a setoff equal to the excess recovery over replacement cost.
The case involves, among other things, property damage sustained by building owner Five Solas (Owner) and its lessee William Price, P.A. from a collapsed wall originating from the property of the defendants, Ram Realty Services, LLC and Sodix Fern, LLC d/b/a Alexander Lofts (collectively referred to as Defendants). Owner’s carrier, Foremost Insurance Company (Foremost), paid out its policy limit of $430,518.25 to Owner for damage to the building. Owner then pursued its claim against the tortfeasors for the remaining damages not paid by its carrier. Foremost also pursued a subrogation claim, but settled its subrogation claim with Defendants, assigning its subrogation rights to Defendants.