The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that an insurer has no duty to enter into a consent judgment in excess of its policy limits. Kropilak v. 21st Century Ins. Co., 2015 806 F.3d 1062 (11th Cir. 2015).
An insured was the at-fault driver in an automobile accident, resulting in injury to the other driver. The insured’s auto insurer immediately tendered its policy limits. Over a year later, the claimant requested that the insurer enter into a consent judgment against the insured in excess of the policy limits, which it did not accept. After a jury returned a verdict in excess of the policy limits, the insured and the claimant entered into a consent judgment and the claimant initiated a bad faith action against the insurer. The claimant argued, among other things, that the insurer acted in bad faith by refusing to enter into the consent judgment in excess of policy limits. The insurer moved for protective orders barring the depositions of the insurer’s representatives regarding the claimant’s consent judgment offer. The court granted the insurer’s motions for protective orders. The insured and the claimant appealed.
The Eleventh Circuit, applying Florida law, affirmed. It held that the insurer had no duty to agree to a consent judgment in excess of the policy limits. The Eleventh Circuit found that the district court correctly precluded the introduction of evidence regarding the claimant’s offer for the insurer to enter into a consent judgment.