Jury Verdict to Replace Home Damaged by Tornado
In January of 1995, an Orlando couple’s home was struck by a tornado causing extensive damage. Their insurance company made initial repairs to the home at a cost of approximately $30,000.00. Unfortunately, the couple continued to have problems with the home. It continued to allow water and moisture to seep through the walls. The summer months were particularly uncomfortable, because the home was impossible to keep cool. The couple took care of their elderly parents in the home and continued to report the problems to their insurance company over the next several years.
Finally, in 1998, when the interior walls of the home began to bubble, the insurance company denied coverage, and alleged their problems had nothing to do with the 1995 tornado.
Plaintiffs filed suit in Orange County alleging that the continued problems with the home were related to the tornado, a covered loss under the policy. More specifically, Plaintiffs’ experts testified that the home had been “wracked” by the twisting winds of the tornado, resulting in the studs that supported the walls being twisted to such an extent that the structural integrity of the home was compromised. This caused the stucco to crack and allow moisture inside.
The insurance company alleged that the problems with the home were caused by flaws in the original construction, namely that the stucco was cracking due to the wood framed walls being improperly constructed. Their experts opined that the plywood in the walls was installed too close together, which made it expand outwardly when exposed to moisture, causing the stucco to crack and allow moisture in the home.
After five days of trial, a jury composed of one man and six women returned a verdict of $290,000.00, approximately $170,000.00 more than the policy limit. After interest and attorney’s fees, the total recovery for the Plaintiffs was roughly $900,000.00.