We are proud to announce a victory at trial over Citizens yesterday. It was an extremely unique and exhausting trial even though it only lasted one day. In short, our client is a Spanish speaker who bought a policy from a Citizens agent. She claimed she was told when she bought the policy she would have sinkhole coverage but she could not actually read what the contracts said. Sometime after she bought the policy she noticed damage to her home and reported a claim. This was back in August 2008. Citizens, also apparently believing she had sinkhole insurance came out and investigated the damage. It was discovered it was related to sinkhole activity and Citizens accepted coverage and issued partial payment to start the repairs. Citizens even filed the sinkhole report with the county which affected the insureds property value by over $100,000. The insured was nervous about starting the repairs without getting a second opinion and hired a law firm, not ours however. A year into the process Citizens suddenly informed the insured and her lawyer that they realized she actually did not have coverage under her policy and denied her claim and demanded the partial payment back. The insured came to our firm to help her once the claim was denied and a lawsuit was filed in 2010. Citizens fought us extremely hard and filed multiple motions to have the case dismissed. Citizens was successful in getting the judge to agree that a jury could not hear about any of the wrongdoing that Citizens did after our client filed her claim. In part, Citizens simply argued that it has immunity from being sued for certain things. The case went to trial this week with the only question for the jury being whether the insurance agent made promises to the insured that she had coverage to the point where Citizens could not deny that she had the coverage. The jury was not even able to know that our client actually did have a sinkhole, only that she filed a claim. Undoubtedly, no one believed we had any chance of winning.The issues were narrow, the burden against us to prove our case was high and our evidence was slim. But, after 5:00 last night the jury returned a verdict that awarded our client the insurance benefits she claimed she was promised. Now, five years later to the day our client filed her claim, she finally will be able to get her home repaired. This was a very gratifying win due to the odds stacked against us and doing the right thing for our very sweet client.
August 15, 2013 by Morgan Barfield