WHITEHALL, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Whitehall Superintendent Patrick Dee confirmed Wednesday that the school district has hired a law firm in an ongoing struggle against their insurance company, over several million dollars in septic damage caused to Whitehall High School in August.
The law firm of Weisbrod, Matteis & Copley, based in Washington, D.C., has been hired to take the case after the district’s insurer, New York Schools Insuring Reciprocal, chose to classify the damage to the building as flooding, rather than septic, despite the fact that an inch or more of black septic water was responsible for damage to every room in the building.
That classification, received after nearly a month of silence from the insurance firm, meant that most of the district’s claim was denied in October. The total cost of repairs, expected to last into next March, is between $10 and $16 million.
The good news is, the district is getting a good deal on the legal help.
“They are so confident that NYSIR is in the wrong that they are accepting no payment from the district unless and until the district receives a recovery for damage to the district beyond the $1.8 million that NYSIR has already agreed to pay,” Dee said over text message on Wednesday.
The firm specializes in insurance recovery law.
The district has received some aid; NYSIR gave them $500,000 in remediation funds after the flooding took place in late August. That was enough to drain the black water out of the building, but not enough to deal with any of the mold, exposed asbestos, and ruined renovations left in the wake.
Since then, the district has received an additional $1 million from NYSIR. If left in the dust, most of the remaining cost would be placed on Whitehall taxpayers.
Dee said that if NYSIR settles with the school district before the law firm begins litigation, the firm will cover 10 percent of what NYSIR will give the school for the repair process. If they do go to litigation, the firm will get 25 percent.
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