May an insurance company sue the defense firm that it hired where it alleges that the defense firm did not meet the standard of care? In Florida, according to Arch Insurance Company v. Kubicki Draper, 4-D17-2889, the insurance company may not file suit because it lacks privity with the law firm. The insurance company alleged that it hired the firm to defend a case for one of its insureds. The law firm allegedly failed to raise the statute of limitations defense, which caused the insurance company to incur a loss.
The privity defense holds that a plaintiff cannot sue a defendant unless he was “in privity” with that defendant. Here, even though the insurance company hired the law firm to defend its insured, there was no privity because the law firm was responsible only to its client, the insured. The court rejected the insurance company’s public policy arguments:
The insurer nevertheless argues public policy and common sense dictate that an insurer should be able to pursue legal malpractice claims against defense counsel retained to represent its insureds. According to the insurer: