Florida homeowner sues neighboring business for sinkhole damage

As we discussed last month, in recent years more and more Florida residents have been dropping their sinkhole damage insurance riders. It is very unfortunate that so many Floridians find themselves unable to pay for the rising costs of full sinkhole coverage, because sinkhole damages can be devastating.

Last week, the Tampa Bay Times reported that an elderly man who does not have full sinkhole coverage has decided to file a lawsuit against the business he believes is responsible for the sinkhole damage to his home.

The man is a longtime resident of Plant City, Florida, and a few years ago he learned that a sinkhole had caused cracks in the ceiling, floors and walls of his home, in addition to a 10-foot hole in his backyard.

His property is near a nursery that uses well-pumping stations to spray its plants. Around the time that the sinkhole occurred, the company pumped about 5.5. million gallons of water from these stations, according to a lawsuit that the homeowner recently filed.

Pumping groundwater in certain areas can cause sinkholes to occur. This is because sinkholes are prevalent in much of Florida due to the limestone subsurface, which becomes cavernous. When water is pumped from underground caverns, voids may form in the spaces that held water, causing the ground to collapse.

The nursery apparently has a permit that allows it to pump water anywhere within 1,400 feet of the wells it owns. The man’s house is 1,600 feet from the company’s wells.

The homeowner reportedly tried to settle this matter with the nursery outside of court, requesting compensation for the damages to his home, but the two parties have been unable to reach an agreement.

At the end of April, he filed a lawsuit to obtain compensation in order to repair his home or purchase another home.

The future of this lawsuit remains to be seen, but this is an example of the very difficult circumstances homeowners can find themselves in after being priced out of sinkhole coverage.

Those who experience sinkhole damage in Florida should be sure to document the damage by taking photos of changes as they occur. A skilled sinkhole damage attorney can then use these images as evidence when negotiating with your insurance company.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Plant City homeowner sues nursery over 2010 sinkhole,” Rich Shopes, June 6, 2013