Small Fraud Defeats Claim Withdrawal of fraudulent portion of claim does not eliminate fraud.

AuthorZalma, Barry

* Star Casualty Insurance Company appealed a summary final judgment and attorney fee award entered in favor of Gables Insurance Recovery, Inc., as assignee of Star Casualty's insured, Ana Maria Correa. Star Casualty alleges that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment due to genuine issues of material fact concerning whether Correa's medical bills for diagnostic imaging procedures were medically necessary and related to the underlying accident for purposes of section 627.736, Florida Statutes. Additionally, Star Casualty alleged that the trial court reversibly erred by striking four affirmative defenses from its amended answer that could have exempted it from liability for the claim.

In Star Casualty Insurance Company v. Gables Insurance Recovery, Inc., a/a/o Ana Maria Correa, Nos. 3D21 -0033, 3D21 - 0377, Florida Court of Appeals, Third District (July 20, 2022) the Court of Appeal was faced with an attempt to avoid the consequences of being caught on a partial fraud only to have the plaintiff withdraw the claim and contend the rest of the claim was honest.


Correa was involved in a vehicle accident on January 19, 2009 and sustained injuries. Subsequently, Correa received diagnostic imaging procedures costing a total of $3,375.00, and Gables, as her assignee, submitted a claim to the insurer for reimbursement of eighty percent of the reasonable medical expenses pursuant to section 627.736(1)(a). After the insurer paid only $400.71 and denied the remainder of the claim, Gables sued to recover the remaining costs.

Star Casualty proffered an affidavit by Edward A. Dauer, M.D., opining that the charges were not medically necessary or related to the accident. This affidavit also noted that three of the imaging procedures performed on Correa appeared to have been improperly upcoded or unbundled with other procedures.

Based on Dr. Dauer's affidavit, Star Casualty amended its answer to add affirmative defenses asserting that it was exempt from paying the entire because the three charges were fraudulent, upcoded, or unbundled. Prior to the summary judgment hearing, Gables voluntarily withdrew its claims for reimbursement of the three charges on which Star Casualty based its affirmative defenses. Gables then moved to strike the defenses from Star Casualty's answer, alleging that the withdrawal of the claims for those three charges made the corresponding defenses irrelevant and moot.

The trial court granted partial summary judgment on...

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