Homeowners who delayed in rebuilding home cannot sue insurer or attorney
Norman Stevens and Donavon Black lost their home in a fire. They were insured by Farm Bureau for replacement cost, however, under the policy, Farm Bureau could require them to do the actual reconstruction prior to paying under the policy. The insureds were slow in starting reconstruction, and they and Farm Bureau agreed to an interim financing arrangement under which Farm Bureau would make payments as construction proceeded. The insureds also consulted the Rasor Law Firm during this period.
Ultimately, Farm Bureau attempted to impose a deadline for construction, and Farm Bureau limited its payments to the actual cash value of the home. The insureds sued Farm Bureau and in a separate action sued the attorneys for malpractice. The case against the attorneys was summarily dismissed and the insureds appealed.
The Court held that the insureds were required to read their insurance policy and that if they had, they would have known that they had only one year in which to sue Farm Bureau. It further held that the insureds' actual damages resulted from their failure to act within a "reasonable time" to rebuild their home--thus relieving the insurer of any duty to pay replacement cost, and relieving the attorneys of any alleged malpractice.