Elderly Couple Sue Mercury Insurance for Water Main Break Coverage

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An elderly couple is suing Mercury Insurance Co. and two related entities, alleging they were wrongfully denied coverage and appropriate benefits after a pipe burst in their San Fernando Valley home in January.

Dal Woong Park, 80, and his 76-year-old wife, Seung Ran Park, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation, seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Dal Park is permanently disabled as a result of head trauma and a stroke, according to the lawsuit. The couple also claim that the event forced them into inferior accommodation and made the husband irritable and sometimes violent.

A representative for Mercury Insurance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This complaint arises out of an insurer’s delays and bad faith refusals to pay benefits contractually owed to its insureds under a home insurance policy,” the suit states. “The behavior of the insurer shocks the conscience.”

The couple purchased a homeowners insurance policy in December for their one-story, 3,200-square-foot ranch-style home on Vintage Street in Northridge, the lawsuit says. Police provided that if the couple’s home was not habitable, Mercury would cover any necessary increase in living expenses incurred by the plaintiffs so that they could maintain their normal standard of living, according to the suit.

The couple filed a lawsuit in January after a water pipe under their concrete slab foundation leaked and caused damage, according to the lawsuit. Mercury had an obligation to advise plaintiffs of their rights, to consider the claim in good faith, to confirm coverage, to help the couple move to a home that would allow them to maintain their normal standard of living and pay for repairs, the suit says.

“Instead, the insurer dragged its feet, transferred the claim to several new adjusters, insisted on countless endless inspections, refused to confirm coverage in a timely manner, and refused reasonable payment for repairs and loss of enjoyment required by his police,” the suit states.

Mercury Insurance also repeatedly ignored emails and calls and refused to provide plaintiffs with updates as required by law, the suit says.

Due to the husband’s brain injury and previous stroke, he becomes easily confused and agitated, can only get around with the aid of a wheelchair and cane, and is supported by his wife, the lawsuit says.

While repairs are being made, the couple were forced to vacate their one-story home that meets their needs and initially reside in their son’s two-story home before being housed in a motel, the lawsuit says. At a minimum, the insurer should have provided alternative accommodation that maintained the plaintiffs’ standard of living, the suit says.

Mercury Insurance offered a monthly stipend of $4,000 from Jan. 17 to June 15, but it’s not enough to maintain their standard of living, the suit says.

Due to the long displacement and living conditions, the couple’s health deteriorated significantly, the lawsuit says. The husband’s restlessness has increased and his violent trait is unknown to his wife and family, according to the lawsuit.

“The wife is now struggling to care for her husband, who can become violent at any time, and she is experiencing her own anxiety and depression,” the lawsuit states.

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