Like those other storm victims, Smith has no idea what happened to her insurance money.
In December, Apex quoted her a little over $12,000 for a new roof. In January, she got a settlement notice for $22,600. A breakdown of the settlement stated $12,500 would go to Smith, and the other 44 percent of it – about $10,000 – would go to cover legal fees and expenses on a claim where no lawsuit had been filed.
The settlement document also granted MMA “limited power of attorney to endorse all checks for settlement proceeds… on your behalf.” Smith signed it but has never seen any of the money and her roof is still not fixed.
Butler said Apex hasn’t seen any of that money either, and the roofer “is not happy about that.”
Recently, Smith’s mother-in-law saw a TV ad by New Orleans injury lawyer Morris Bart, encouraging MMA clients to hire his firm instead. Smith is one of more than 600 former MMA clients to hire Bart associate Austin Marks to represent her. Marks said he was able to get Smith’s insurance company to void any settlement checks that MMA had endorsed.
“They took advantage of homeowners. They took advantage of insurance companies,” Marks said. “They lied, cheated and stole from everyone.”
Smith wonders how she could have protected herself from something Judge North called “an unprecedented tableau of misconduct.”
“If the judge don’t know what to say, like if no one has even seen this before, where do we go from here?”
“Insured to Lose” continues Tuesday (March 2) with Part 2, describing what Judge North describes as a separate part of MMA’s “scheme.”