Pest control operator and insurer sued for $80K in termite damage to rental property owned by local attorney

By Kyle Barnett | Dec 11, 2013

GRETNA – A Gretna attorney and his wife are suing a pest control company and their insurer over excessive termite damage to a rental property they own.

GRETNA – A Gretna attorney and his wife are suing a pest control company and their insurer over excessive termite damage to a rental property they own.

Keith L. Magness and Dionne O. Magness filed suit against Martin Pest Control LLC, Robert Martin and Underwriters at Lloyds London syndicate #2987 in the 24th Judicial District Court on Nov. 15.

The plaintiffs claim they contracted with Martin Pest Control to eradicate termites shortly after they purchased a rental home located at 701 Gretna Blvd. in Gretna in 2006. According to the plaintiffs, Robert Martin presented himself as experienced in pest control and cited his previous experience with another company that was sold before he created Martin Pest Control.

The plaintiffs claim the defendant told them he would apply a liquid termite barrier around the slab of the home that would require subsequent occasional monitoring and that they entered into a contract where Martin would continue to treat the home and renewed the contract in 2007, 2008 and 2009 during which time no infestation was reported. In April 2010, the plaintiffs assert termites were found in areas of the home where they were not discovered during Martin’s treatments of the home, but Martin immediately treated the affected areas. The plaintiffs allege that Martin had a warranty in place that would cover up to $300,000 in damages to the property.

On June 12, 2012 the plaintiffs claim they again found termites in the home and that Martin subsequently found numerous termite entrance points at the home’s slab where it should have been treated. The plaintiffs assert after severe termite infestation was found in the home Martin sent a claim to his insurer to make repairs to the property and that their adjuster would provide a claim on the necessary repairs, The plaintiffs’ contractor allegedly estimated the repairs at a cost of $80,000.

Following demolition the plaintiffs allege an insurance adjuster found that the repairs would cost more than $69,000 which was much higher than an average estimate, but a subsequent inspector found that the plaintiffs had done too much demolition work on the home and that the needed repairs could have been completed for a much smaller fee and at the most would cost over $46,000. The insurer only provided an initial check in the amount of $2,815 and after negotiations tried to tender two more checks in the amounts of $10,289.68 and $3,674.89 that the plaintiffs turned down because the payments would have released the insurer from further liability.

The defendants are accused of breach of contract, negligence and detrimental reliance.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for cost of damages to the home.

The plaintiffs are represented by G. Patrick Hand of the Gretna-based The Hand Law Firm and Keith L. Magness of the Gretna-based Law Office of Keith L. Magness LLC.

The case has been assigned to Division J Judge Stephen C. Grefer.

Case no. 732-921.

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