Arkansas Class Actions Accuse Insurers of Cheating Builders

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CN) – An Arkansas builder filed class-action lawsuits accusing four insurance companies of routinely passing over reputable construction firms for unlicensed ones that ignore building codes to pocket money on payouts at the expense of policyholders.

Bob Porto, owner of Bob Porto Builders in Little Rock, filed four separate class actions Tuesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court against State Farm & Casualty Company, Allstate Property and Casualty Company, Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Arkansas and Safeco Insurance Company of America.

Porto claims in each lawsuit that he and other area builders began losing roofing jobs in January 2016 because of the insurance companies’ policy of approving the lowest bidder, despite knowing they have no intention of following building codes.

According to his class actions, all four insurance companies are “completely aware that the lower bidders are not going to replace the roofs within code.”

“As a result, roofers licensed by the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board, such as plaintiff, are damaged,” his June 6 lawsuits say.

Porto says he has 20 years of experience in the new home construction business, and more recently has been focused on replacing roofs damaged by storms.

He seeks actual and punitive damages for deceptive trade practices and a declaration finding it unlawful for the insurance companies to ignore building codes, refuse bids of licensed roofers taking into account Arkansas’s building codes, and cause their policyholders to repair or replace their roofs in violation of codes.

The class actions also request an injunction requiring the insurance companies to accept only detailed roofing bids from licensed contractors who provide estimates that correlate to applicable building codes.

Porter is represented in all four class actions by Scott Poynter of Little Rock.

State Farm and Farm Bureau did not immediately respond to email request for comment Thursday afternoon. Allstate and Safeco could not be reached for comment.

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