UNDER LAW AND FACTS ON REQUESTED JURY INSTRUCTION.
In this final iteration of Stalley v. Allstate Ins. Co., No: 6:14-cv-1074-Orl-28DAB, 2016 WL 3282371 (M.D. Fla. June 10, 2016), appeal docketed, No. 16-14816 (11th Cir. July 11, 2016), Stalley was apparently not a Powell case after all, and a crucial plaintiff's requested jury instruction was apparently supported neither by the law nor the evidence in the record at the conclusion of the case:
The authorities cited by Plaintiff do not establish the existence of a “presumption” under Florida law in a jury trial setting regarding the possible outcome of settlement efforts. This Court does not read Powell as creating any such presumption; instead, as noted earlier, this Court construes the statement in Powell that “[a]ny question about the possible outcome of a settlement effort should be resolved in favor of the insured” as an accurate, well-established statement of the movant's burden on a motion for directed verdict—the context in which that statement was made. Plaintiff has identified no Florida state court decision discussing or approving a jury instruction informing the jury that it should resolve “any question about the possible outcome of a settlement effort” in favor of the insured. No binding Eleventh Circuit precedent to this effect has been brought to the Court's attention either. Furthermore, Plaintiff's proposal of language requiring “conclusive proof” by an insurance company to overcome the supposed “Powell presumption” is wholly lacking in support. Thus, this Court concludes that the portion of Plaintiff's proposed Special Instruction 3 quoted earlier in this order is not an accurate statement of Florida law in the context of jury instructions, and accordingly this Court concluded that it was not appropriate to include that proposed language in the jury instructions in this case.
Stalley v. Allstate Ins. Co., No: 6:14-cv-1074-Orl-28DAB, 2016 WL 3282371, at *6 (M.D. Fla. June 10, 2016), appeal docketed, No. 16-14816 (11th Cir. July 11, 2016).
In an earlier appearance of Stalley, on an earlier record, the same District Judge ruled that the record at that time potentially supported Powell and accordingly denied Allstate's motion for summary judgment at that time. The Court's stated rationale included the Powell rule. See Stalley v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 6:14-cv-1074-Orl-28DAB, 2016 WL 1752764, at *8 (M.D. Fla. April 29, 2016), quoting Powell v. Prudential Property & Casualty Insurance Co., 584 So. 2d 12, 14 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991), review denied, 598 So. 2d 77 (Fla. 1992).
The Powell rule of initiating settlement negotiations when the likely damages in the underlying case are greater than available policy limits ("when damages are great") and when the insured's underlying liability is probable ("when liability is probable"), is not a hard-and-fast legally constructed duty despite being called a "rule." Instead, it varies with the facts, as the rulings in Stalley so clearly display.
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