Our firm certainly has a lot of sinkhole trials coming up in the next six months but there is a very unique one I wanted to share. My client is insured with State Farm. State Farm confirmed sinkhole activity at his property and their experts recommended grouting. My client did everything State Farm requested and hired a contractor he met with and did the exact work State Farm’s experts suggested. Months later, he continued to have problems and reported these to State Farm who responded with basically we have paid for everything. He hired our firm and we sent an engineering firm to the property. Our engineering firm drilled a new boring to see what was going on below the surface and found several active voids and raveling zones indicating sinkhole activity was still ongoing. State Farm of course did not want to believe our expert and demanded a neutral evaluator inspect the property. The neutral evaluator did some of his own testing and found the same conditions that our engineer did and recommended re-grouting the property. State Farm admits that this work is necessary to properly repair the home.

So what’s the problem? Well, State Farm has taken the position that the original grout job was not done properly and therefore the contractor should have to pay for the re-grout. This brings up a new twist as to who has to pay when a grout job doesn’t work? State Farm’s problems are first how do you prove that even if the grout was done properly that there still wouldn’t be sinkhole conditions here? That is almost impossible for an engineer to testify to. The second problem is even if the work wasn’t done properly, my client is the innocent party in this and you as his insurer have the responsibility of repairing his home. If State Farm then decides they want to go try to recover the money they paid my client from the contractor, they can do that later. This will be a fun trial and tough to predict what a jury will do but we will let you know more.

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