Terminix Fraud Forces Elderly Retired Educator to Live in Her Camper. Arbitration Award Pops Pest Control Giant with $2.8 Million in Damages.
On August 15, 2019, after an arbitration trial in Mobile, Alabama, against Terminix, Campbell Law PC’s Tom Campbell and Brandon Falls recovered a $2,800,000 judgment for their clients, two retired educators who refused to be bullied by the termite company that nearly ruined their lives.
After Campbell Law PC proved fraud on Terminix’s part, the arbitrator awarded the Baldwin County victims $2.8 million in damages. Why the huge decision against the pest control giant in favor of the victims? The judgement includes punitive damages to punish Terminix for their scam that left an elderly former high school principal camping outside her home in a travel trailer for two years while her home fell apart.
What Happened in this Case? New Victims, Same Terminix Fraud.
The house involved in this case is a beach home owned by two retired educators – one is a retired high school principal and the other a retired college dean. The retired principal had to live in her travel camper for two years after the local building inspector determined that the home was unsafe. Instead of traveling the U.S. and enjoying the home to enjoy her bird-watching hobby on the barrier island, this retiree had to live in her camper and spend two of her remaining years fighting to recover money to rebuild her home.
The Campbell Law PC attorneys proved and the arbitrator agreed that Terminix never treated the home. That’s right, never. Terminix and its lawyers tried to argue that some treatment, albeit a deficient treatment, was done, but the records reflecting that must have been lost. However, because of its in-depth knowledge of Terminix’s internal procedures (including record keeping), Campbell Law was able to get the Service Manager to admit that either the house was never treated or someone at the home office destroyed the computer records that would reveal the extent of any treatment to the home.
At Terminix, their policy is any claim payment over $50,000 must be approved by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Director of Termite Damage Claims, Rick Skolnik, summarized the facts of the claim for the CEO. He recorded in the claim file that the home was never treated, interior inspections were always skipped, and that the house must be demolished and replaced. Nonetheless, the CEO refused to honor the repair bond’s pledge to replace the home when doing so is necessary. You read that correctly: before this case ever went to trial, Terminix knew that that the home was never protected against termites nor properly inspected.
At trial, Mr. Skolnik admitted that this is like a homeowner’s insurance company refusing to replace a house that has burned to the ground when the owner has replacement value insurance. He could offer no legitimate excuse for his bosses’ refusal to pay the claim as provided in the repair and replacement bond.
Rebuilding would have cost $250,000, plus the cost of the victims renting another suitable home. The victims begged Terminix to make these arrangements for them because one had nowhere else to live, and she could not afford to pay for two homes. However, Terminix never even attempted to rebuild the home despite having numerous qualified builders on its payroll in South Alabama. Instead, they allowed one of the victims to literally camp outside her home in a camper trailer while her house was deemed unsafe to live in.
Instead of honoring the termite bond’s written pledge to rebuild the home, Terminix’s CEO and Chief Financial Officer tried to bully their elderly victims and made the Mobile, Alabama Service Manager offer the victims $72,000 — but with two strings attached. First, they had to agree to never disclose the payment. Second, they had to agree not to ever criticize the company or its employees. The retirees refused to bow to the CEO.
Left with nowhere to live and no way to rebuild the home, the retirees contacted Campbell Law PC because the firm has never lost a trial against Terminix and its lawyers have been suing the company over this ongoing scam since 1997.
A Pattern of Fraud and a Pattern of Justice
This is the latest in a string of multi-million-dollar awards against Terminix for a fraudulent scheme Campbell Law PC has uncovered through twenty years of litigation. At the time the $2.8 million arbitration award was delivered by email, Campbell Law and Terminix were embroiled in another fraud trial in Mobile and Terminix’s Service Manager was testifying that Terminix’s home office prevents branches from determining whether its termite treatments were skipped altogether or were incomplete.
Unfortunately, the damage done to the elderly victims in this case is not a rare, one-off mistake on the part of a few bad actors in south Alabama. Rather, the fraud perpetrated on the retired principal is the meat and potatoes of Terminix’s business model, and the plan and enforcement of this fraud comes from the very top of the company.
Luckily, good rises against bad and the scales of justice seek balance. In the last twenty years, Campbell Law PC has emerged as the leader in uncovering and proving this horrible malpractice by Terminix and companies like it.
Campbell Law PC Stands Up to Cheats and Bullies
To point out that band of attorneys at Campbel Law PC have become a thorn in Terminix’s side is an understatement. Prior to this trial, Terminix fired the big-time Chicago lawyers who defend its fraud cases across the country and hired a famous “litigation boutique” from Birmingham, Alabama. The new lawyer warned Campbell Law that his marching orders from Terminix were to “be more aggressive.” The lawyer threatened that he would appeal any award over $1,000,000 “all the way to the Supreme Court” to delay payment so the retirees should take what Terminix was willing to pay. Terminix tried this move earlier in the summer when ordered to pay an elderly widow 1.7 million dollars.
Lawyers are not supposed to use a right to appeal merely to delay paying a judgment, so this threat is not within the bounds of procedural rules. And the attorneys at Campbell Law have never rolled over to the threats of cheats and bullies. The Campbell Law PC lawyers filed a petition in Federal court on Friday to enforce the arbitration award and deter Terminix’s lawyers from filing a frivolous appeal.
Campbell Law PC has eight lawyers who handle termite damage claims across the country every day. If you are being hoodwinked or bullied by your termite company, the termite team at Campbell Law PC will try to help. Campbell Law PC never charges a fee unless they win.