Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Roof is Falling In?

Happy Mardi Gras. That means Fat Tuesday, of course, and it's supposed to be the day you commit all the sins that you need to have forgiven during Lent.

Somehow, I don't think we need a lot more to be forgiven for this year. But letting anyone go for 15 years without power is yet another. I am struck by this story because I had something similar happen to me. Because I have a friend on the town council, I got the work done, and my power back on, because I had some one to turn to. This lady didn't;

Norena, who didn't want her full name used because she is embarrassed by her situation, lives in Cutler Bay, and her home was severely damaged when Hurricane Andre slammed South Miami-Dade in August, 1992.

Like many people after that horrific storm, she had a problem with an unscrupulous contractor, and when the money from the insurance settlement ran out, the contractor did too, leaving her home half-repaired and not up to code, which meant it would not have the electricity connected.

She didn't have the money to complete the work, and she didn't have anyplace else to go.

"It just never got done, and the money was gone, so I couldn't do a lot of things to allow me with Dade county to get my power back on," she said.

So she lived with it. She celebrated the new millennium with one tiny lamp and a single burner. On the 10th anniversary of Andrew in 2002, her neighbors celebrated their recovery; she was still living in the disaster.

Electrical contractor Kent Crook was amazed when he saw how she managed to get a tiny amount of electricity into the house for a Spartan existence.

"She has extension cords running into her house, plugged into a tiny little refrigerator and a cook top, and a lamp or two in front of her house," he marveled.

Somehow, her situation fell through the cracks. Her neighbors never noticed her near-pioneer lifestyle, and County code inspectors never caught the violations which prevented her from connecting up the power.

In Texas, the contractor has a great deal of protection from legal action, because the arbitration system requires that homeowners take the results of a system of mandated arbitration. Here is one story;

Our arbitration was scheduled for 2 days in May in Houston, Texas. When we arrived at the arbitration the arbitrator was joking and talking to Palm Harbor Attorneys (they were on a first name basis) about how he almost missed our case as he didn't have it written down right. He had to hurry and catch a flight from San Antonio.

For $12,000 plus expenses I could at least get the date on my calendar correct.

During our Arbitration the arbitrator fell asleep no less than 4 times and in between his nap he changed our case to 1 day instead of 2. I guess since he had already made is mind up he didn't need 2 days. When he wasn't sleeping he was dipping snuff and gagging over his spit cup. He did a great rendition of a cat hacking up fur balls. He did not listen to our witnesses and he ignored the pure hard facts.

It was truly amazing how he was able to rejuvinate his self when the Palm Harbor witness gave his statment. Now this is a professional witness as he has testified for Palm Harbor in at least 6 other mold cases. The arbitrator actually set up and put his glasses on (this was the first time he had put them on all day) and read the witnesses report.

We had to witnesses that had been to our home and tested our home and he slept through their statments.

When the farce of a arbitration was over, this was on Wednesday the same day that it started he told us that he would have his decision to the AAA on Friday morning. Our evidence book was over 4 inches thick and since he slept through the arbitration one would think that he would need to look over it. Nope he awarded us $19,000 for a $83,000 house and nothing for lawyer fees nor the pain and suffering that we went through for 2 years

The arbitration system was originally based on the overload that our court system suffers from, and was supposed to provide a less expensive means of seeking redress. For many homeowners it has provided no solution and no redress for the harm that's been done them.

In view of the binding arbitration that has been used extensively across Texas in my experience, but evidently in many other places, Good Luck getting resolution of any problems you may have.



Blogger chicago dyke said...

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9:42 AM  

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