Sometimes in your legal career its all about just doing the right thing and trying to make it right for a client. We have discussed a case against Citizens in the past where the homeowner filed a sinkhole claim, was informed she had coverage, they tested, found sinkhole, filed the report with the county and then later informed her that she actually did not have sinkhole coverage and denied repairs. The main issue here is that the sinkhole report was filed with the county. Her home dropped in value from about $150,000 to about $35,000 overnight due to the confirmed and un-repaired sinkhole. In deposition, the Citizens representative admitted that they made a mistake. Not only did Citizens make the mistake but so did the independent adjusting agency they hired as well as the law firm they hired. Everyone told this homeowner she had sinkhole coverage from day one. If they gave her the correct information, she would have never had the home tested and her home would not be labeled a sinkhole home today. She is seeking to either have her home repaired so it recoups some value or for Citizens to pay her the value her home has lost. Citizens offer through two years of litigation was “we will let you walk away without coming after you for our fees”. This one of the most deplorable acts I have ever seen an insurance do topped off by one of the most arrogant and disrespectful handling a claim I have ever seen.
Unfortunately, the law in Florida is that Citizens can not be sued for anything other than five extremely limited circumstances. Most of the situations have nothing to do with homeowners. The only two that arguably do are that Citizens can be sued when it does something intentionally or when it breaches a contract with a homeowner. In this case, Citizens argues that it made a mistake and there is no proof it was intentional and that they could not have breached a contract because there never was a contract for sinkhole insurance. We have tried just about every angle we can but the Pasco County Judge has also shot us down at every turn. This case makes me sick that an insurance company can admit they made a mistake, admit that they significantly harmed a homeowner, one if its clients who pays their premiums, and then just throw their hands up and walk away taunting the homeowner to “come get us if you can”. If there is any leniency in the legal system in this State it needs to be here. I promise to do everything in my power to find a way to get this case to a jury even if it is under some theory that doesn’t stand a chance. Citizens will have to explain themselves one day.