ST. CLOUD, Fla. - An Osceola County family claims a pest control company refused to honor its repair warranty after termites destroyed their home.
Sean and Marny Brennan moved their family, saying they feared their St. Cloud home could collapse.
The termite damage the couple uncovered was so complete and so severe that a structural engineer called it dangerous.
"We had to pack up, find a place to move and give up our dogs, because we could not take them with us, and it was hard," Marny Brennan said.
The Brennans thought the termite warranty from Apex Pest Control had them covered. Apex had treated the home since 1999, and its repair warranty promised coverage of up to $1 million, Sean Brennan said, adding, "If I had any termite damage, they would fix it, repair it."
But Apex denied the claim, saying it didn't find any live termites, which is an exclusion in the contract.
The Brennans hired attorney Peter Cardillo, who claimed the live termites clause was buried in fine print and violated state regulations.
"The judge ruled that was an illegal provision under Florida law, so the jury could not hear about that," Cardillo said.
The jury found the company violated its warranty and ordered Apex to pay the
Brennans $210,000 in damages.
The termite-damaged home is in St. Cloud, and the trial was in Brevard County, but the jury's verdict could help homeowners across Florida. If it withstands an appeal, consumer experts said it is a precedent for other termite warranties.
"You don't have to accept what the termite company is saying when they deny the claim," said Cardillo.
Apex Pest told Action 9 its experts proved the damage was done before it treated the home. It said its contract clearly stated all exclusions, and it will appeal the verdict.
Apex Pest said the jury should have been told the couple collected a
homeowners insurance settlement.
The Brennans claim that after legal fees, they're still just trying to cover their losses.