An elderly couple is suing Mercury Insurance Co. and two related entities, alleging that they were wrongfully denied proper coverage and benefits after a pipe broke in their San Fernando Valley home in January.
Dal Woong Park, 80, and his 76-year-old wife, Seung Ran Park, brought the breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation suit on Wednesday, seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Dal Park is permanently disabled from a traumatic brain injury and stroke, according to the suit. The couple also claims that the event forced them into inferior housing and caused the husband to become irritable and at times violent.
A Mercury Insurance representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
“This complaint arises out of an insurer’s bad-faith delays and refusals to pay benefits contractually owed to its insureds under a homeowners insurance policy,” the suit states. “The insurer’s conduct shocks the conscience.”
The couple bought a homeowners policy in December for their one-story, 3,200-square-foot, ranch-style home on Vintage Street in Northridge, the suit states. The policy provided that if the couple’s home is not fit to be habitable, Mercury would cover any necessary increase in living expenses incurred by the plaintiffs so they can maintain their normal standard of living, according to the suit.
The couple filed a claim in January after a water pipe under their concrete slab foundation leaked and caused damage, the suit tates. Mercury had an obligation to tell the plaintiffs their rights, review the claim in good faith, confirm coverage, assist the couple in relocating to a house that would allow them to maintain their normal standard of living and pay for repairs, the suit states.
“Instead, the insurer has dragged its feet, transferred the claim to multiple new adjusters, insisted on countless, never-ending inspections, refused to confirm coverage in a timely manner and refused reasonable payment for repairs and loss of use required by its policy,” the suit states.
Mercury Insurance has also repeatedly ignored emails and calls and refused to provide the plaintiffs updates as the law requires, the suit states.
Due to the husband’s brain injury and prior stroke, he becomes easily confused and agitated, can get around only with the assistance of a wheelchair and cane and is cared for by his wife, the suit states.
While repairs are made, the couple was forced to move out of their one-story home that accommodates their needs and initially reside in their son’s two-story house before being given housing at a motel, the suit states. At minimum, the insurer should have provided replacement housing that maintained the plaintiffs’ standard of living, the suit states.
Mercury Insurance offered a $4,000 monthly stipend from Jan. 17 to June 15, but it is not enough to maintain their standard of living, the suit states.
Due to the lengthy displacement and living conditions, the couple’s health has deteriorated substantially, the suit states. The husband’s agitation has increased and his violent trait is unfamiliar to his wife and family, according to the suit.
“The wife now has difficulty caring for her husband, who may become violent at any point, and she is experiencing her own anxiety and depression,” the suit states.