In Fadeeff v. State Farm Gen. Ins. Co., 50 Cal.App.5th 94 (May 22, 2020), the California Court of Appeal reversed the entry of summary judgment in favor of State Farm General Insurance Company (“State Farm”) in connection with a smoke and soot damage claim made by Leonard and Patricia Fadeeff (the “Fadeeffs”) for damage sustained by their home due to the 2015 Valley Fire. The parties’ dispute arose out of the Valley Fire, which took place in Lake County, California. The Fadeeffs’ home was located in Hidden Valley Lake.
The Fadeeffs submitted a claim to State Farm under their homeowners policy. Initially, after an adjuster inspected the home and noted that it was “well maintained” with no apparent maintenance issues, State Farm made a series of payments and arranged for ServPro to clean the smoke and soot damage. Subsequently, the Fadeeffs retained an independent adjuster and submitted a supplemental claim in the amount of $75,000. State Farm retained a different unlicensed adjuster to investigate the claim and retained expert, Forensic Analytical Consulting Services (FACS) to inspect the Fadeeffs’ home, and another company referred to as HVACi, to inspect the Fadeeffs’ HVAC system.
The independent adjuster used to investigate the Fadeeffs’ supplemental claim failed to follow company guidelines in connection with using experts, which required specific questions to be addressed by the expert. In addition, FACS only took surface samples of the walls in the Fadeeffs’ home. Ultimately, the reports prepared by FACS and HVACi concluded that no additional work was required to remediate the damage sustained by the Fadeeffs’ home. Thereafter, State Farm denied the Fadeeffs’ supplemental claim.