Judge Manno-Schurr: Reversed again for not knowing the law

Valerie Manno-Schurr has made a habit of being reversed in her first term as Miami-Dade circuit judge. The latest instance was on Feb. 29, when the Third District Court of Appeal determined that she erred in a dispute over a homeowner’s insurance claim.

Judge Manno-Schurr has been reversed many times on cases taken to appeal. As of late 2011, about 45% of her decisions were sent back to her to fix a legal mistake. Does she deserve re-election this fall? Voters may want to think about how well – or poorly — she handled this case, and others.

In this recent case, a Miami-Dade homeowner received an insurance payment of $7,000 in 2005 for damages from Hurricane Wilma. In March 2009, a public adjuster inspected the homeowner’s property and filed a supplemental claim for $122,769.

The insurance company challenged the claim in court and asked that the homeowner do two things: submit to an examination under oath and sign it; and provide a sworn proof of loss in 60 days.

The homeowner instead asked the court to order an appraisal. The insurance company told Judge Manno-Schurr, no, the homeowner had not provided the information needed to evaluate the insurance claim. The judge sided with the homeowner and the insurance company appealed.

The appeals court agreed with the insurance company, saying that Judge Manno-Schurr should have first conducted an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the homeowner had complied with his obligations when filing the supplemental claim.

“The transcript of the hearing on the motion to compel appraisal reflects that the trial court never reviewed any evidence on whether [the homeowner] complied with his post-loss obligations under the policy,” the court said in its opinion.

The appellate court told Judge Manno-Schurr to conduct a hearing, just as she should have in the first place.

Do her mistakes qualify her for another six years on the bench? Or is it time that Miami-Dade voters look for someone who is more competent and willing to follow the law?

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