Property Damage / Recognition

Attorneys John Tolley & Joshua Brownlee secure Jury Verdict in Lee County, Florida

On May 21, 2021, at approximately 8:30 pm, Attorney John Tolley of JT Law Firm secured a Jury Verdict in Lee County, Florida. The county tends to be a pro-insurance venue and Plaintiff’s verdicts are difficult to come by. The jury returned a verdict in favor of a roofing contractor who was acting on behalf of their client, elderly homeowners.

The verdict concluded a more than a 2-year long journey through highly contested litigation. The Defendant is a large insurance provider known for denying and underpaying homeowner’s insurance claims and aggressive litigation tactics.

The provider tried to avoid paying for damages to the roof, which they agreed was damaged as a result of Hurricane Irma and covered by the policy. The provider tried to blame the 80-year old homeowner and his wife for waiting only one year to report the claim. Meanwhile, the policy specifically allows for an insured to report a hurricane claim within three (3) years from the date the hurricane made landfall in Florida. Moreover, the insured didn’t initially report the claim because they tried to responsibly take care of the problems themselves. The plaintiff’s expert testified that what many homeowners do not realize about tile roofs is that when a wind event, like a hurricane, hits a roof, the screws or nails holding down the tiles slightly back out and compromise the water barrier. As a result, over the course of the next few years, an unsuspecting homeowner will begin to have leaks on the inside of their home. This is why the insured and his wife didn’t report a claim until they realized that water started leaking into their home.

Ironically, the insurance company then tried to argue that the insureds shouldn’t recover anything because the insurance company untimely exercised their right to repair under the policy. The policy has an “our option” clause, this clause allows an insurance provider to inspect a loss and then choose to fix the damages. In this case, the insurance company had thirty (30) days to exercise this option but waited sixty-three (63) days to do so. Moreover, the insured testified that the contractor for the insurance company took so long to exercise this option, the elderly homeowner had to pay again out of pocket to have a roofer stop the leak. The the80-year old homeowner further testified that he had to replace his own hardwood floors, crown molding, baseboards, and drywall himself due to the water intrusion so that he and his wife could have their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild home for the holidays.

Luckily, the jury was able to look past the insurance company’s (as Attorney John Tolley argued) “excuses” and find for the homeowners!

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