Commissioner Manolo Reyes presents proposal to face insurer QBE's lawsuit against Miami

MIAMI.- Manolo Reyes, commissioner of Miami, seeks to prepare the Commission against a lawsuit filed by the insurer QBE Specialty Insurance Company, which seeks to recover the money spent on legal representation to defend the municipality in different lawsuits since 2018.

QBE Specialty Insurance Company, a company specializing in Public Management Liability insurance, was retained by the City to provide outside legal protection with attorneys experienced in matters related to public management and public liability claims.

As a result of the various legal disputes in which the city has been involved, “QBE says it does not pay more and filed a lawsuit against Miami,” Manolo Reyes explained to DIARIO LAS AMÉRICAS.

Reyes' proposal, which will be discussed at the meeting this Thursday, May 23, advocates stopping all payments for external legal fees as of the date the resolution is adopted.

“This is not because the City has acted badly. The issue is the same as always: insurance, when it comes to paying, tries to ignore it. The same thing happens with home insurance; when someone files a claim for a leak on the roof, they try to find a justification for not paying and show you a clause in small print of the contract with which they justify not disbursing the corresponding compensation money,” explained Reyes.

“They (QBE) allege that in the case of Commissioner Joe Carollo, as was intentional, they are not going to pay. The result is that we (the city) are currently as if we did not have that insurance.”

In 2018, two Little Havana businessmen, Willian Fuller and Martin Minillas, sued Commissioner Carollo in federal court. In 2023, after a lengthy process, the businessmen won the lawsuit and Carollo was sentenced to pay 63.5 million dollars.

Reyes proposes that “when an elected official needs the assistance of a specialized external attorney (paid by the City) to be defended in a lawsuit, he or she comes to the Commission so that we can make a decision on the matter. We can question, for example, the number of lawyers involved in a lawsuit.”

“The commissioner in question would have to justify to the Commission why he needs three or four lawyers and the fees each one charges.”

Furthermore, “the proposal directs the city manager to enter into negotiations to hire an outside attorney expert in dealing with insurance companies to confront the lawsuit filed by QBE against the City.”

The insurance that is now on pause covers police, elected officials and department directors in liability claims, Reyes explained.

The law establishes that when elected officials in the execution of their office receive a lawsuit, the costs of the defense are covered by the City.

Insurance company QBE sued the City and put its contract on hold, arguing that the actions committed by elected officials were intentional and illegal. Therefore, they request that the money paid for legal representation with external experts in the various trials in the city be returned to them.

According to Reyes, “QBE's lawsuit not only concerns Commissioner Carollo's lawsuits, it includes other lawsuits.”

For example, “when Police Department Chief Art Acevedo was fired, I voted in favor of the measure. Acevedo accused the Commission of being a Cuban mafia and said that was why there were no more white people in the Police. I considered those statements totally irresponsible, problematic and divisive, especially those uttered by the Chief of Police.”

“Well, Acevedo filed a lawsuit against those of us who voted in favor of firing him, in which I am included.”

Reyes' proposal must be approved or discarded by the full commission.

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