Sean Shaw married Tammi Trimming a little more than a week ago. Here is a picture of Sean, yours truly, and Sean’s father, Retired Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Leander J. Shaw.
Leander Shaw was the first black justice on the Florida Supreme Court. We had a great time at the wedding reception. Sean Shaw is smiling because his bride is as nice and smart as she is beautiful. Here is a picture of the newlywed couple:
Justice Leander Shaw authored a very important decision involving the rights of people to bring suit against insurance companies for unfair claims practices. The insurance industry argued that Florida’s Civil Remedy Statute for insurer misconduct applied to a limited classification of people. The Florida Supreme Court disagreed. Justice Shaw wrote in Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Conquest:1
Section 624.155 is the mechanism by which a person may bring a civil suit against an insurer who violates the Insurance Code and provides that “[a]ny person may bring a civil action against an insurer when such person is damaged.” We find the section’s use of the words “any person” dispositive. The words are precise and their meaning unequivocal. By choosing this wording the legislature has evidenced its desire that all persons be allowed to bring civil suit when they have been damaged by enumerated acts of the insurer. This Court has a long history of giving deference to a statute’s clear and unambiguous wording. See, e.g., Zuckerman v. Hofrichter & Quiat, P.A., 646 So.2d 187, 188 (Fla.1994); S.R.G. Corp. v. Department of Revenue, 365 So.2d 687 (Fla.1978). Since the legislature has not prohibited third-party actions under the Code we are bound by that legislative determination. See also State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co. v. Laforet, 658 So.2d 55 (Fla.1995) ( section 624.155 provides remedies for first- and third-party actions). We are not unmindful of Cardenas’ premonition that a plain reading of the words “any person” as including injured third-parties.
Of course, we did not talk about such nerdy legal rulings on the wedding night. But, I remembered the decision because my old mentor, Paul Butler argued on behalf of Auto-Owners while friend, Jack Breiden argued for Ms. Conquest. Jack answered a question posed by Justice Shaw about two minutes into Jack’s argument and then sat down. Justice Shaw started laughing and told him he should keep arguing because other members may have questions as well.
Positive Thought for the Day:
“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won’t happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.” – Joel Osteen
How about a song for the Newlywed Couple and Brides everywhere:
1 Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Conquest, 658 So. 2d 928, 929-30 (Fla. 1995).