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Real estate insurance suit yields huge verdict

Many kinds of litigation revolve around real estate and connected issues in the state of Florida. One of the causes for a jury trial may be the alleged bad faith of a property insurer.

Dozens of homeowners banded together to file a claim against their real estate insurer after it failed to pay out for damage to homes that should have been covered under their policies. The incident began more than 10 years ago, when residents of more than 100 condominium units observed signs of sinkholes in the area.

Residents noticed cracked walls, peeling stucco, doors that could no longer fully close and depressions in the soil between units. Homeowners filed claims as they saw the property values plummet, but the insurer never paid any of these claims.

Engineers hired by the condo association investigated the claims and the insurer performed test drilling near some of the units. "The workman doing the drilling said it was the largest collapse he'd ever experienced in conjunction with drilling and he'd nearly been crushed by the drilling equipment falling on top of him," according to one of the residents.

A jury that heard the case in Pinellas County awarded one of the largest civil settlements in Florida history to many of the homeowners. The total was $12.7 million, the estimated cost of stabilizing 83 of the homes. The defendant, however, plans to appeal after spending more than $180,000 in legal fees fighting the case.

An attorney may be instrumental in forwarding a claim against an insurer or seller acting in bad faith. Legal representation can help make sure all possible avenues are explored to rectify a problem with real estate.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Citizens, hit with $12.7 million verdict, acted in ‘monumental bad faith,’ homeowner says," Susan Taylor Martin, March 14, 2018

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