tampabay.com

Citizens asks court to dismiss Poe suit

By TOM ZUCCO
Published July 18, 2006


Citing a lack of jurisdiction, attorneys for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. filed a motion Monday to dismiss a lawsuit by Poe & Associates of Tampa that seeks to allow Poe agents to continue doing business with Citizens by collecting commissions on about 80,000 former Poe policies.

The motion filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa is the latest chapter in the largest insolvency of an insurance company in Florida history.

Three affiliates of the Poe Financial Group - Atlantic Preferred, Florida Preferred and Southern Family - were ordered into receivership in May by a Leon County Circuit judge, sending nearly 320,000 policyholders to Citizens, the state-run insurer of last resort.

The affiliates left behind about 19,400 unpaid claims, representing a projected loss of about $300-million, money that will eventually come from assessments on all Florida property owners.

Two weeks after the liquidation, Poe & Associates, a separate Poe affiliate that represents insurance agents, sued Citizens, claiming Poe agents should be able to collect millions in fees for servicing the policies that transferred to Citizens.

In its motion Monday, Citizens argued that Leon County Circuit Court, not U.S. District Court, has jurisdiction in the case. Attorneys for both sides were unavailable for comment Monday night. The next scheduled hearing in the case is 11 a.m. today in Tampa.