Steve Badger and I had a rematch debate yesterday at the TAPIA Conference in Kerrville, Texas.1 There were some topics that we agreed were “juicy,” with attorneys getting unilateral agreements for umpire appointments and other Texas attorneys winning cases and then being arrested. But I came across a pleading in a Florida lawsuit where Tower Hill claimed all kinds of fraud against a contractor and a “juicy” counterclaim was filed by the contractor against Tower Hill entities, its CEO and US Forensics.
All pleadings in lawsuits are allegations. It does not mean they are true or that a lawsuit will prevail. Pleadings merely set the stage for a dispute and facts are determined later. The first lawsuit filed by Tower Hill made various allegations indicating that the contractor was engaged in fraud. After initial discovery was conducted, a counterclaim was filed which had two sections of pleadings I noted.
First, the allegations made against US Forensic should have the American Policyholders Association (APA) take notice:
Tower Hill routinely retained U.S. Forensic, an engineering firm, with the directive and agreement that U.S. Forensic would outright deny hurricane damage existed or assert minimal damage findings regardless of the source or extent of damage to the insured’s property. U.S. Forensic is just one of many engineers and/or engineering firms that conspired with Tower Hill to fraudulently deny or undervalue SFR’s legitimate claims.
Upon information and belief, Tower Hill engaged in other illegal and fraudulent conduct designed to defraud SFR, as assignee, with the intent to obtain monies belonging to SFR, as assignee, and in violation of Florida’s Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act.
Doug Quinn is the executive director of the APA, and its primary mission is to prevent insurer fraud against its own customers:
The APA recognizes that at the time of loss, property owners rely upon the insurance companies and their agents to measure the loss to a property and determine what the insurance company is obligated to pay in benefits. The property owner and insurer have adverse interests in the determination of an insurance company’s liability. The APA studies the conflict of interest present in the adjustment process and monitors the systematic methods used by the insurance industry to determine policy benefits. The APA recognizes that insurance fraud occurs far too often by those obligated to pay for the loss.
But the allegations get “juicier!” How often does money laundering come into an insurance lawsuit? Here are the allegations that Tower Hill (TH) slandered the contractor by accusing it of money laundering:
TH Group’s communication of false statements to SFR’s customers became a pattern and practice of TH Group in an attempt to induce SFR’s customers to cease their business relationship with SFR.
On or around April 11, 2019, Kyle Abernathy, on behalf of TH Group, initiated a phone call with the Chief Code Officer of Lee Code Enforcement and Contractor Licensing and made the false statement that SFR was engaging in work without the proper licenses.
On July 1, 2019, Kyle Abernathy, on behalf of TH Group, initiated a phone call with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and made the false statement that SFR was engaged in money laundering.
SFR has never engaged in money laundering.
The statements made by TH Group are defamatory on their face and constitute defamation per se, as they falsely and maliciously accuse SFR of criminal conduct.
Again, I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but an owner of a contracting company is obviously not taking allegations made by Tower Hill lightly and is suing the leader of a major Florida insurer to make a point. Stayed tuned because this is as “juicy” as a ripe, plump Indian River orange.
Thought For The Day
I feel like I just grabbed a big juicy worm with a right sharp hook in the middle of it.
—Lyndon B. Johnson
1 The Cowboy Steakhouse is a rare gem which many may miss in Kerrville, Texas. The wine selection was extraordinary. I suggest that if you are lucky enough to dine there, ask the owner, Richard Ferris, to select your wines and simply give him a price point. If you think this blog post is “juicy,” wait until you try their steaks. This 45-year-old family restaurant is passionate about their food and Texas service.