Stuart F. Cohen, a partner in Conroy Simberg's Hollywood office, heads up the firm's Subrogation and Recovery Division. With nearly 28 years of experience as a trial lawyer, he has handled dozens of jury trials throughout the state of Florida to his credit.
Stuart’s practice includes the full gamut of tort and insurance law, including medical negligence, trucking claims, insurance coverage disputes, employment law, bad faith and extra contractual, exposure claims, automobile, premises and product liability claims.
Stuart was recently listed in 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® for Insurance Law and Litigation - Insurance. He has an AV rating with Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory for more than ten years, the highest possible rating by his peers – both lawyers and judges - in both legal ability and ethical standards. Stuart is also proud to be a Life Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Membership is limited to those trial lawyers throughout the United States who have achieved verdicts, awards or settlements for their clients of One Million Dollars or more.
Stuart is also an active member of the Fort Lauderdale Chapter of the America Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). ABOTA members are among the most experienced trial lawyers in their region, with members being invited by their peers only after possessing a vast amount of jury trial experience.
Admitted to Practice:
- Florida, 1993
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, 1994
- U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, 2004
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, 2013
- University of Miami School of Law, Juris Doctorate, 1993
- University of Miami, Bachelor of Business Administration, with Honors, 1990
- American Board of Trial Advocates
- Weston Bar Association
Honors and Awards:
- Listed in 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® for Insurance Law and Litigation - Insurance
- AV® Preeminent™ rated by Martindale-Hubbell
- "Recovery Case Review: Real Life Scenarios For Adjusters Pursuing or Defending Subrogation Claims," Conroy Simberg Webinar, Co-Presenter, April 2021
- "Preparation For Successful Subrogation," Conroy Simberg Webinar, Co-Presenter, October 2017
- "Subrogation Interpretation and Contemplation For Your Fascination," Conroy Simberg Annual Seminar, 2017
- "Help Us Help You: How To Properly Prepare Your Claim File for Subrogation," Conroy Simberg Annual Seminar, 2015
- “You’ve Got To Fight … For Your Right … For Recovery!!!” (Paying, Chasing and Post Claim Recovery), Conroy Simberg Annual Seminar, 2012
- Stuart has lectured on medical and legal issues to groups of dentists and dental students on several occasions, including at Nova Southeastern University.
- We represented a commercial property company and its insurance carrier against a former tenant and its construction firm for significant property damage that occurred during a renovation.
The insured owned a commercial property in a prime retail area that was leased by an international luxury brand. At the end of the lease, the tenant’s construction contractor damaged and destroyed various aspects of the inside of the leased space that the tenant believed to be proprietary to their brand. The initial attorney representing the building owner’s insurance company sent the file back, indicating that there was no chance of recovery because the lease between the tenant and the property owner contained a waiver of subrogation clause. The file was then sent to our office for a second opinion. After reviewing the file, we decided to place the matter in suit against the tenant’s contractor, who was not a party to the lease. We believed it should have had knowledge that its actions that caused damage to the property were not the tenant’s responsibility. We successfully defended a motion for sanctions, alleging the lawsuit was frivolous, and a motion for summary judgment. Subsequently, we were able to convince the defendant that it had significant exposure should this matter proceed to trial. The total amount paid to the insured for the loss was $975,000.00; however, $550,000.00 of that amount was for lost rent, which we did not believe could be attributed to the damages caused by the construction company. So the total recoverable amount we believed to be at issue was $425,000.00. The case settled for $200,000.00, which was obviously a good result, considering the initial attorney indicated the file had no recovery potential. Additionally, $60,000.00 of that settlement was paid by the tenant, which the initial attorney did not believe was a possible result based on the waiver of subrogation clause.
- We prevailed on behalf of two insurance companies and a construction company in a suit against a subcontractor. This claim actually involved two separate losses, both of which occurred during the same construction project. The class of loss were separate and in distinct locations of the job site involving six-figure damage claims.
The first loss occurred at a military base while construction was under way. Our client was the prime contractor. Our claim was against the mechanical subcontractor that was responsible for flushing the chill water pipe for an HVAC system when a four-inch PVC pipe connection failed. The failure occurred in the mechanical attic above the fourth floor of the building. Unfortunately, the water ran for hours before it was discovered and it caused extensive damage to the premises. Coverage was provided to the insured under a “shared market” policy. The insurance companies split the property exposures on this loss on a 50/50 basis. Despite the abundantly clear liability on the mechanical contractor responsible for this loss, its insurer made absolutely no offer to resolve the claim. Instead, it argued that under the construction contract and subcontract, and the language of the policy, it was an additional insured under that policy and thus could not be subrogated against. We were able to successfully defeat a motion based on this defense. It then became clear through discovery that the subcontractor was unable to dispute liability, or to place any comparative fault on the insured for its role in the startup of the HVAC unit. The total amount of the loss was calculated to be $722,042.94. The case was eventually settled for $400,000.00 without the need to spend an extensive amount of costs for inspections and discovery. The settlement will be split 50/50 between the insurance companies.
The second of the two losses involved a complex coverage issue. The shared market policy under which this loss was covered had an additional insured endorsement that may have been read broad enough include the putative tortfeasor - the general contractor - as an additional insured. Had this been the case, a subrogation/recovery action against this entity would have been barred. To further complicate matters, the general liability carrier of the general contractor was the same insurer as the one seeking recovery. After obtaining several coverage opinions, this matter was eventually settled for nearly $400,000.00. This recovery came without the necessity of extensive litigation, and thus without significant procurement costs being incurred, thus maximizing the net recovery of the insurer.
- We obtained a large recovery for a homeowners’ insurance company against a condo development company.
The insured owned a home with access to the beach. Directly adjacent to his property, a developer, along with several other defendants, began construction on a high-rise condominium. Due to the construction in close proximity to the home, the insured’s residence sustained significant damage from falling debris and foundation issues from vibration of the massive construction. Prior to making a claim with the insurance company, the insured retained private counsel and filed his own lawsuit against the defendants. The lawsuit is currently still pending. At the same time, the insured’s claim with the insurance company was resolved and the insured received $553,000.00 for the damages and loss of use. Before we filed a motion to intervene and assume the insured’s claim, we were invited to attend mediation between the insured and the defendants. The insured has asserted that he still has damages outside of those paid by the insurance company, which he intends to continue pursuing. The claim did not resolve at mediation; however, we have continued our negotiations with the defendants. We anticipate that with the resolution of a few minor matters between the insured and the defendants, we will be able to secure a settlement of approximately $300,000.00 without ever having to file an action on behalf of the insurance company or incur any costs in this matter.
- We secured a significant subrogation victory for a homeowners’ insurance company against a condo association after previous legal counsel said it was not possible.
The insured owned a penthouse unit in a building where the roof of his property was the same roof for the defendant’s unit. The insured filed a claim with his insurance company for water intrusion into the unit that was allegedly caused by a failure of the roof, a common element of the building. The insurance company paid the insured $592,626.90 for the loss. This file was initially assigned to another law firm on the company’s panel counsel. That law firm sent the file back with the indication that there was no chance to make a recovery. Subsequently, the file was sent to our office to provide a second opinion. Although there were several issues that could have barred our ability to secure a positive recovery, we believed there was enough to warrant pursuing the matter. The following were just a few of the adverse issues that we faced with this claim: (1) A history or water intrusion into the insured unit from, allegedly, the same problems that went back to 1997; (2) A release signed by the insured in 2000 for water intrusion claims that allegedly released the defendant condo association for any future water intrusion claims; and (3) a Florida statute in place at the time of this claim that barred subrogation actions against condo associations. The condo association filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to have the case dismissed for all of the reasons addressed above. However, through discovery, we were able to survive the summary judgment and convince the court that the issues were factual and required a jury’s determination. As a result, we were able to establish that there was potential exposure to the condo association and settled the case for $200,000.00. We were obviously pleased with this result, considering the various procedural and factual defenses that could have barred the entirety of the action and the fact that the file was previously rejected by another law firm.