Court rules Reddick farmer's property can be inspected in Hurricane Irma damage claim

By Marian Johns | May 7, 2019

OCALA — A federal court has granted an insurance company's move to compel an inspection of a property owned by a Reddick farmer who is disputing his insurance proceeds related to damage from Hurricane Irma. 

According to the April 5 U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Ocala Division order, the defendant, Great American Insurance Company, asked the court to compel an inspection of the plaintiff's, JB McKathan, doing business as McKathan Farm, property, which is the subject of an insurance claim filed after Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September 2017.

The case involves McKathan's insurance claim after his property in Reddick sustained hurricane damage. Great American sent out a field adjuster to inspect the property after McKathan filed the claim and McKathan was issued a payment that was calculated according to the adjuster's estimate minus the policy deductible and "applicable appreciation." 

A few months later, McKathan gave Great American a "sworn statement in proof of loss" and an estimate he received from a construction company. Great American then sent an "expert" who is a professional engineer out to McKathan's property to do another inspection. However, court documents show, he could only inspect one of the six buildings on McKathan's property. 

In June 2018, McKathan filed a lawsuit against Great American with the defendant naming the professional engineer and also a roof consultant as "experts." Great American also served McKathan with a request to "permit entry upon land for inspection" with the plaintiff objecting to the request. 

Great American argues that the inspection "is necessary to evaluate all portions of the plaintiff's claim" and the inspector only had access to one of the buildings on his earlier visit to McKathan's property. 

McKathan argues the inspection is "prejudicial" and that Great American already had time for discovery and that it did not "properly disclose" one of the "experts." McKathan also argued that another inspection would "yield new opinions" from the expert, would disrupt "case management deadlines" and that coverage is not available for two of the buildings, so they do not need inspection. 

U.S. District Judge Philip Lammens concluded that McKathan's argument "is not persuasive" and that Great American is "entitled" to inspect each of the buildings included in the claim.  Lammens also issued a deadline for the inspection to be completed and for the "expert" report to be disclosed. 

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