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Citizens announces agreement over sinkhole claims


Published:   |   Updated: July 17, 2014 at 02:40 PM

The News Service of Florida reports: Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and a Tampa-based law firm have reached an agreement that could help resolve about 300 sinkhole claims, the state-backed insurer announced Thursday.

Under the agreement, clients of the Thompson Trial Group P.A. will receive settlement offers that include a plan for making repairs to homes damaged by sinkholes.

In part, Citizens would pay for below-ground repairs recommended by a professional engineer. Policyholders would be able to choose repair contractors from a pre-approved list. Citizens would also then pay for any related above-ground damages.

Citizens has dealt in recent years with trying to resolve large numbers of sinkhole-related claims, primarily in Pasco, Hernando and Hillsborough counties.

Michael Peltier, a Citizens spokesman, said the insurer has about 2,000 sinkhole claims in litigation.

In a news release Thursday, Citizens said the agreement with the Thompson Trial Group could help avoid millions of dollars in potential litigation expenses.

The homeowners involved are not required to accept the settlement offers, but the law firm also praised the agreement.

“After a long fight in the courts and a lengthy negotiation, we are really excited to have finally put in place a settlement opportunity for our clients that is fair and protects their valuable property rights,” attorney Lee Smith said in a prepared statement.

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