More than 10,000 hail-damage lawsuits are expected to be filed in Texas this year. Or should we say, more than 10,000 were expected to be filed?
The number's likely to drop now that Speights & Worrich has announced its decision to “significantly downsize.”
Speights & Worrich specializes in hail-storm damage claims, but was hit this year with a class action suit accusing it of barratry and fraud, along with associated public adjusters and roofers. That suit, which the firm says “wrongfully damaged” its “professional reputation,” is allegedly the reason for the downsizing.
“This litigation was filed to support transparency and accountability in the insurance claim process, and establish a legal precedent that will prevent conspirators and con artists from gaming that system,” said Mark Ticer, the attorney representing the class.
Another class action was also filed in Tarrant County, accusing many of the same defendants of creating shell companies in order to “steal from residents of North Texas through an elaborate web of fraudulent and illegal conduct.”
According to this second suit, “The Defendants have developed a door-to-door sales scheme to induce North Texas area homeowners to allow Defendants to file claims with their homeowners’ insurance carriers for alleged roof and other damage resulting from hail and wind events.
“The Defendants then act on behalf of the homeowners in negotiating resolution of the insurance claim. Thereafter, the Defendants collect the insurance claim payments. Sometimes the homeowners receive new roofs. Other times they do not.”
“These homeowner victims were promised additional money through lawsuits. Now, they don’t even have enough money to replace their roofs,” said Steve Badger, the attorney representing the second class. “Sadly, most of these victims are minority, elderly, and low-income.”
If Speights & Worrich is guilty of engaging in scams like this, then the damage done to its “professional reputation” can hardly be considered “wrongful.” The damage, in fact, would be self-inflicted.