Report: #832054

Complaint Review: Empire Today

  • Submitted: Tue, January 31, 2012
  • Updated: Sat, May 26, 2012
  • Reported By: James S — Canoga Park California United States of America
  • Empire Today

    United States of America

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

First off, I did not hire Empire Today, my neighbor did.  I live in a condo complex with 40 units.  However, their installers caused my home to flood causing $10s in damages.  And because they led me on a months long hunt after other people and insurances, Ive been dealing with this situation for nearly 6 months.  My home hasnt been repaired and now Empires insurance company is refusing to pay for all my losses.

8/15/11 - Empire sends installers to our condo complex to install some carpet for my neighbor.  We dont even know that the installers are on the property until my wife hears and feels a loud bang on our exterior wall, also a loud rushing water pipe.  After realizing that water was entering our home she goes outside to see Empires 3 installers, one of whom was identified as Ivan Hernandez, standing around a large roll of carpet and a broken off water spigot which is flowing directly into our exterior wall.  They had dropped the large roll of carpet onto the spigot and broken it.

Around 30 minutes later the fire department is finally able to shut off the water.  By that time our living and dining area were flooded ruining our newly installed hardwood floors, our kitchen was flooded, our closets were flooded, our bathroom was flooded and the water had traveled across and into our neighbors bathroom with whom we have a common wall.  Soon, Ive arrive and the HOA representative also shows up.

The installers call Don Del Rio of American Quality floors whom they say is their boss.  Don arrives and we ask for his insurance information.  He doesnt have it on him but promises that hell get it to us as soon as he gets back to the office.  We dont hear from him that day.

8/16/11 - The HOA has called Empire Today and given them insurance information regarding Don Del Rio and American Quality Floors, they relay that information to me.  The information given is not however and insurance company, it is Don Del Rios insurance broker, Scott Woodward.  The HOA has talked to the insurance broker and said that Don Del Rio is not going to file a claim because the spigot was faulty.  I examine the information Empire has provided and notice that a small note that says Tower Insurance with no further information.  I do a search for Tower Insurance and find a claims telephone number.

I call Tower Insurance and try to find out if Don Del Rio is one of their insured, they wont tell me one way or the other.  I insist on filing a claim anyway and when I do they find that American Quality Floors is one of their insured.  They also say that since this is a 3rd party claim that an investigation is going to take longer than normal.  Brian Osterholt is the assigned to my claim.

My wife secures a moving company and a storage facility to move our things out of the home so a remediation company can remove the water damaged wood floors and open up the walls to prevent mold damage.

8/22/11 - Tower insurance sends out Joseph Orr from then, Jim Buckley & Associates, Inc., Insurance Adjusters and now IAS Claim Services to assess the damage.
9/6/11 - Joseph Orr sends me a lazily done estimate to repair my home.  I write him back with several changes that need to be made.

9/23/11 - After several phone calls inquiring about the claim I get a call from Brian Osterholt explaining that theyve just received information regarding the claim that could cause them to not accept responsibility.   Their claim is that the installer, Ivan Hernandez, and his crew were not employed by Don Del Rio and are therefore not covered by American Quality Floors policy with Tower Insurance.  He tells me that they will likely disclaim.  He also sends me a poorly written, undated document signed by Ivan Hernandez stating that American Quality Floors is not responsible for the damages he causes.

That day I call Don Del Rio and ask him for insurance information for Ivan Hernandez.  He doesnt have any.  I ask for a license number, he never got it.  I asked for Ivans bonding company, Don doesnt have that information.  I ask Don for Ivans address, Don doesnt have it.  I ask for a telephone number.

I call Ivan Hernandez and explain the situation and ask him for insurance or bonding information.  He doesnt have any and explains that he should be covered by American Quality Floors.  Ivan tells me that hes going to call Don and straighten things out and that hell call me back when he does.  I never hear from Ivan again and subsequent attempts to contact him reveal that his phone has been disconnected.

9/24/11 - My neighbor speaks to Denise Shatler (?) and opens a ticket with Empire Today customer service.

9/26/11 - I call Empire Today customer service and get in contact with Laura Woods and attempt to get Empire Todays insurance information.

9/27/11 - Empire Today states that theyre going to pass along the incident to their legal department.

9/28/11 - I write Brain Osterholt to learn the final determination regarding my claim.

10/10/11 - My neighbor opens a claim with his insurance company Liberty Mutual, and the claim is assigned to Jill Westwood.  I call Empire Today and the incident has been passed along to Bill Crane in their legal department.  They say theyre going to open a claim with their insurance company, CNA Insurance.

10/13/11 - Brian Osterholt calls to confirm that Tower Insurance disclaims the damages. I call Laura Woods at Empire Today asking for their insurance information.

10/14/11 - Empire Today has on record that close the incident.

I begin working with Jill Westwood on resolving the claim.  She is in contact with Empire Today as well as Tower Insurance.  She gets confirmation that Tower Insurance disclaims the incident.  Empire Today has yet to file an insurance claim.  I make several calls in mid-November to get information on the claim Empire Today has said they were going to file.

12/12/11 - Bill Crane calls and apologizes that his paralegal never called me.

12/15/11 - Empire Today finally files a claim with their insurance company, CNA Insurance.  The claim is assigned to Anne Storeck.

12/16/11 - CNA sends an adjuster to assess damages to my home.

12/21/11 - Called Anne Storeck she is trying to get a hold of Brian Osterholt at Tower Insurance seeking coverage through Don Del Rios policy.  Called Brian, hes on vacation unitl 12/28.

12/28/11 - Called Brian left message.

12/30/11 - Called Brian, hes on vacation until 1/3/12

1/3/12 - Called Brian left message.

1/4/12 - Brian Osterholt of Tower Insurance calls to inform me that they wont carry CNA under the policy for Don Del Rio and American Quality Floors.  I call Anne Storeck of CNA, shes on vacation until 1/9/12

1/9/12 - Anne Storeck sends me the written estimate from her adjuster and an offer to cover the cost of repairs.  I send her a review of all costs incurred including additional repairs and cleaning receipts, my wifes lost wages, Loss of Use of my home and meal per diem requests.

1/18/12 - CNA Insurance agrees in principle to pay for all damages, lost wages, Loss of Use and a meal per diem.  However, the offer isnt near the actual cost of these things.

1/20/12 - I send CNA a detailed review of the losses.

1/26/12 - CNA refuses to budge on the offer for lost wages, Loss of Use and meal per diem.

The loss Ive incurred could have been settled long ago.  But it was Empire Today who initially provided poor information sending me on a long round about road, piling up the expenses along the way.  Ive been unable to use half my home including the living room, dining room, kitchen, downstairs bathroom which has been exposed to my neighbors bathroom on our shared wall and storage areas.  I have a 4 year old whos been confined to her bedroom for nearly 6 months because the space that was her home is a mix of flooring adhesive and splintered wood chips.  We have no chairs or a table on which to eat meals, our kitchen half storage area, half construction zone, not a place to prepare meals.  My wife who works from home and cares for our child has lost wages.

Empire was negligent in sending unlicensed, unbonded, uninsured, possibly criminal installers to my home endangering my wife and child.

I hope this report influences you to never hire Empire Today for any job.  If you do, please verify that the people they are sending to your home are properly licensed and insured, Empire Today wont make sure of that for you.
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#1 Consumer Suggestion

Always Do This

AUTHOR: John - (U.S.A.)

If there is an incident of any kind during an Empire install CALL THE POLICE. Ask them to file an incident report. In the process they will verify the identity of all parties involved, including the installers. They will take statements from the involved parties and check that they have proper documentation such as a business license and insurance card. If any of the Empire installers are fugitives or illegal aliens they will be taken care of by police. Make it easy on yourself. Make the call.
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#2 UPDATE Employee

ET Customer Support

AUTHOR: Business Response - (USA)

Mr. Sinohue,

Thank you again for providing your comments and concerns.  As you have now retained an attorney, we will direct all further communication to your attorney.  Thank you.
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#3 Author of original report

What the lawyer said

AUTHOR: James S - (United States of America)

Before I get into that...

ET, I have been dealing with your insurance company for many weeks.  After several months of you're not even bothering to file a claim that is.  And now you're hiding behind the insurance company just like you hid behind the subcontractors all that time.  Step up, I've not made unreasonable demands. You caused this, fix it.

I hired a lawyer last Friday.  It was actually the second lawyer I talked to.  They both came out with the same reasonable assessment on what I ought to be asking for which wasn't far off from what I was asking for.

The likely scenario as far as I can tell will be: lawyer contacts insurance, insurance will make another offer, offer won't be satisfactory, lawyer sues everyone involved (my neighbor, Empire, Don Del Rio).  I'm not anticipating Empire or CNA doing the right thing until it gets to court.  I hope they do, but not likely.
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#4 Consumer Comment

What did your attorney say?

AUTHOR: Robert - (USA)

I hope you've retained a good attorney.  What did the attorney tell you?

You might consider getting a loan against your home to effect the needed repairs so that your home is livable again - then SUE your neighbor.  6 months with an opened wall in the bathroom is ridiculous.

Good luck.
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#5 UPDATE Employee

ET Customer Support

AUTHOR: Business Response - (USA)

Mr. Sinohue,
Thank you for providing your comments and concerns.  Empire takes all such concerns seriously and
referred your claim to its insurance carrier. We understand that the insurance
carrier has been in contact with you and is working directly with you to resolve
your claim.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding your claim, please
contact the insurance adjuster.  Thank you.
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#6 Author of original report

No word at all

AUTHOR: James S - (United States of America)

I guess this is beyond the 'please contact us' typical response they normally want to throw at people filing reports.

I didn't want to have to go here, but I'm seeing my lawyer today.  Empire has a small window left to settle up before the price I had been willing to settle at grows to me seeking full restitution through a lawyer and/or the courts.
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#7 Consumer Suggestion

Did you consult with an attorney?

AUTHOR: Robert - (USA)

You really should consult with an attorney.  What I told you about "privity of contract" and who is ultimately responsible to you for your damages is correct.

I learned this the hard way  about 2 years ago when coping with damages to our cedar shingle siding caused by a Dish Network installer (at the request of a tenant.)  Our legal remedy to recover damages was to sue our tenant-not Dish Network or the installer.  If our former tenant wishes, he is free to sue Dish Network and Intertech Digital (the installers) for the damages caused by the improper antenna installation.

You are in a similar situation.  You have suffered damages caused by a contractor that was hired by your neighbor.

You need to seek redress from the party that contracted their services-YOUR NEIGHBOR.

Good luck.
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#8 Author of original report

Regarding Insurnace

AUTHOR: James S - (United States of America)

This is a good lesson for condo owners or anyone with an HOA.  I thought I had insurance, certainly my mortgage company wouldn't have given me a loan without a policy.  All this time I believed I had been paying for it out of an escrow account with my bank.  I found out that it was pretty standard that the underwriters use the HOA's insurance policy to satisfy this requirement.  And of course the HOA's insurance isn't going to do anything for damages inside my home.  Check your policy folks, and do as the man says, get your own insurance.
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#9 Consumer Suggestion

Sue your neighbor.

AUTHOR: Robert - (USA)

You're going after the wrong party.  The responsible party is YOUR NEIGHBOR WHO CONTRACTED THEIR SERVICES.

There is a doctrine in law called "privity of contract" which is why you're getting the run around from everyone, including the HOA.  The party that contracted their services is responsible to YOU for the damages-this is your neighbor.

This is the same defense Dish Network uses when a landlord is seeking damages for an antenna installation that was contracted by a tenant.  This doctrine of law applies to your situation.

Don't take my word for it.  You should consult with an attorney (well worth the $50-$100 consultation fee) to verify this yourself.  You should sue your neighbor for any and all damages.  Then, your neighbor is free to sue them for the damages.

Don't waste any more time-retain an attorney to sue your neighbor.  You will get your damages from your neighbor.  The neighbor, contractor, HOA and insurance companies can fight among themselves as to who is responsible for what damages.

Good luck.

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#10 Consumer Comment

Get insurance!

AUTHOR: Inspector - (USA)

It's not smart to not have insurance on your property or possessions, as a matter of fact it is downright foolish.  I hear everyday about someone having a fire or flood and donations are collected because the person has no insurance.  You will be bounced around until you're exhausted and stop inquiring but, you will not get retribution or renumeration.  Your fault and you will most likely eat it.
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#11 Author of original report


AUTHOR: James S - (United States of America)

Thanks for your insight.

However, as of now, there is no doubt who is responsible for the damages as Empire Today's insurance company, actually a company owned by Empire Today called Flooring Install Inc., has admitted and claimed responsibility.  They, in fact, are also liable to our HOA for the plumbing repairs and damage they caused to the exterior of our unit.

Also, at the time I didn't have an insurance policy or I would have had them involved.  Regardless, Empire Today's negligence started this whole mess and yet they're unwilling to step up.
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#12 Consumer Comment

Just a thought

AUTHOR: Susan - (USA)

You said:
"8/15/11 - Empire sends installers to our condo complex to install some carpet for my neighbor.  We dont even know that the installers are on the property until my wife hears and feels a loud bang on our exterior wall, also a loud rushing water pipe.  After realizing that water was entering our home she goes outside to see Empires 3 installers, one of whom was identified as Ivan Hernandez, standing around a large roll of carpet and a broken off water spigot which is flowing directly into our exterior wall.  They had dropped the large roll of carpet onto the spigot and broken it."

In your HOA paperwork does it say you are responsible for the outdoor water spigot and any damage it might cause your unit? I doubt it, that says the HOA and their insurance is responsible.

Wondering, did you have insurance? If you had you should have called them. They would have fixed your condo and did all the fighting to get paid back.
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