Today, in Marion County, Florida, in a case styled Glenn and Kimberly Trabing v. Tower Hill Select Insurance Company, Circuit Judge Frances King denied the most recent attempts by Tower Hill Select Insurance Company to force an insured to enter into a contract before payment for subsurface repairs will be paid. Although the Insurance Policy indicates Tower Hill may withhold coverage for subsurface repairs (e.g. grouting and underpinning) until these repairs are commenced, Ted Corless argued the language did not apply to the facts of the subject claim. The Court agreed with Corless and granted his motion for entry of final judgment. A comprehensive "bad faith" suit is now underway and will be filed by the end of this week.
"Tower Hill Preferred forced my clients to participate in more than 2 years of litigation, only for them to lose, yet still refuse to make payment," Corless said. In its original investigation of the claim, Tower Hill argued the loss had occurred before they insured the property, despite the fact the very experts it hired did not agree. Instead, the testimony was, Greg Nelson, a high-ranking Tower Hill representative decided on his own the claim should be denied. After suit was filed and the Tower Hill expert deposed, the Court threw out Tower Hill's defense and ordered it to provide coverage. Later, after Tower Hill again sought refuge behind the "neutral evaluation" program, even the neutral evaluator rejected Tower Hill's position on the claim.
Instead, after reviewing the data of the claim, the neutral evaluator found the damages to be in excess of the policy limits. This occurred in September 2011, but Tower Hill still had not paid. Today's hearing took away their last chance to avoid payment, unless it intends to appeal the ruling. Giving the fact the appellate court for Marion County has already ruled in a manner against Tower Hill's position, this move would not appear wise. Nonetheless, as it is their right to continue to defend and seek an appellate review, the insureds in this case may have to wait even longer. Regardless, when the smoke clears, Tower Hill is going to find themselves responsible for years of delay, interest, costs, and a mountain of attorneys' fees. "The next time I hear about insurance companies complaining about lawsuits, I'm going to show them this one. Tower Hill has had years to resolve this claim, but chose to adjust the loss in the courtroom." Corless hopes the loss today will bring Tower Hill to its senses with the hope it will not use these same tactics in other cases as well. Corless said his phone "has been ringing off the hook since word got out that the Tower Hill 'siege' is now over."
Tower Hill with have 60 days from the date of the final judgment to pay the loss, and 30 days from the date to file an appeal.