Sunday, February 5, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Insurer Loses Motion |to Disqualify Fla. Judge

(CN) - A Florida appeals court rejected Clarendon National Insurance Co.'s request to quash a $2,400 judgment in a personal injury case, because the judge's husband allegedly said he intended to put the insurer out of business.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld the judgment against Clarendon, which had been awarded by a three-judge panel. One of the judges on that panel, years earlier and while in private practice, signed a small-claims complaint against Clarendon.

The judge's husband and then-partner in the small law firm sought sanctions against the insurer and allegedly said he intended to put Clarendon out of business.

Because the three-judge panel had already affirmed the judgment, the judge Clarendon sought to disqualify denied the motion as moot.

The appellate court revived the motion, which the appellate division judge reconsidered and denied. The insurer again petitioned to have the judgment overturned.

"We now deny that second petition," the appellate court wrote. "Even assuming the appellate judge's spouse stated that he intended to 'put Clarendon out of business,' a $2,400 claim could hardly achieve this."

Senior Judge Schwartz dissented.

"In my judgment," Schwartz wrote, "the antagonism and antipathy of the judge and her ex-partner-spouse toward the petitioner, as demonstrated by the record ... makes it impossible to sustain that judgment."

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.