What You Find Depends on How You Look

ladders 01272015

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Insurers for the termite companies sometimes question why experts used by Campbell Law PC see more at the victim’s home than the experts they send. Why is that? Because our experts inspect to the degree of thoroughness recommended by the pest control industry’s trade association and nationally recognized entomologists like Paul Bello, author of “Leave No Stone Unturned.” Experts sent by the insurance companies or the lawyers those insurers hire sometimes claim they did not see what our expert found.

Are the different well-trained experts just saying what the side that hires them want them to say? Some folks make that cynical accusation about any “hired experts” that testify in litigation. We will not engage in that debate. Cynicism leads to a closed mind – and that is never a good thing.

However, one thing is true: You can’t find small signs of termite infestation unless you use the tools that the National Pest Management Association and other industry-connected groups recommend.

In the attached photo, experts hired by the insurers for Alabama Termite and Pest Control are looking at the wooden foundation from the ground with flashlights. The experts did not even remove temporary siding that was covering what the homeowners said was shredded wood.

On the other hand, Paul Bello, lower right, used the ladder that was available for use to everyone. Mr. Bello found wood in the foundation that crumbles in your hand.

Mr. Bello pulled out the wood to show the judge and jury how badly damaged the home is if you will use the tools that you should use and why it is important. Mr. Bello made these recommendations in an article published in one of its trade journals in the 1990’s. Mr. Bello believes that you must “leave no stone unturned” – especially when you know that the company that was required to apply a termite treatment has destroyed every pesticide use record in its history and that the home you are inspecting has never had an adequate termite barrier.

The home featured in this story should have been protected by Alabama Termite and Pest Control of Bessemer, Alabama.
In sworn deposition testimony, the corporation presented its president, Ken Estes, to testify. Mr. Estes admits that he and the former president of the company personally came in after work and used a high-powered shredder to destroy the treatment records for thousands of customer accounts. The theme of the Campbell Law case is that if you shred all of your customer records, a jury is probably going to think you have something to hide.

In a shocking twist, Mr. Estes testified that the company’s insurers forced it to make changes to form contracts that allowed the records to be destroyed.

Alabama regulators have testified that destroying records is not allowed because the records are needed to see if the work was done safely and effectively. Joe Debrow, Alabama’s top regulatory official and watchdog for consumers says the reason given to customers for changing their contracts was deceitful. He instructed the company to cease and desist. Alabama Termite and Pest Control ‘s owner testified the company continued to send the letter, issued new contracts that claim to cap damages at $10,000, (Campbell Law PC explains in the litigation why the cap does not apply), and once the contracts were switched completed the shredding party.

In the lawsuit pictured here a Pelham family with four young children face financial ruin because half of their home may have to be rebuilt due to Formosan termite damage. The victims claim the home lost $195,000 of its value as a result because there is no market for selling homes with such severe damage and a history of never being protected from termites. The family will be dislocated for three to four months while repairs are made.

If you are a customer of this company and your home has received annual inspections that take ten to twenty minutes or so, please call us. We want other customers to explain how superficial inspections were the normal practice. Trial is set for Bessemer, Alabama on May 4, 2015.