Sinkhole repairs could make you a target for
Article Courtesy of BayNews 9
Published September 16, 2007
PASCO COUNTY (Bay News 9) --
In Pasco County, before you repair a sinkhole you have to pull a permit.
creates a record so the next potential buyer of the property will know
what they are dealing with. But commissioners said lawyers are using those
records as a way to find new clients.
There's technically nothing wrong with a lawyer trying to drum up more
business. But Pasco commissioners and state lawmakers said before
homeowners with a potential sinkhole claim call an attorney, they should
first call the state ombudsman's office because it won't cost anything.
Commissioner Michael Cox said the county has a plan to make sure residents
get the word.
"We will contact the homeowners via letter letting them know there
are options available to them through the state," Cox said.
Pasco attorney Craig Levalley said he doesn't use sinkhole repair permits
to find customers. But he is skeptical of the county's plan to encourage
homeowners to call the state sinkhole ombudsman first.
"The ombudsman's office doesn't have the ability to give anyone
specific legal advice," Levalley said. "The only power they have
is to see if they can get the insurance company to do something; take a
new look at something."
Levalley said it's irresponsible to not tell someone to get legal advice
on a legal problem. He said many of his clients have turned to the
ombudsman's office with no results.
All of this still leaves the homeowner with the sinkhole claim to decide
whether or not to hire a lawyer.
Commissioners still want residents to know about the ombudsman option.
Despite the assertions of attorneys, Senator Mike Fasano said the state
can guide homeowners through the complicated process of dealing with a
The state sinkhole ombudsman is David Fisher. He can be reached at