Article Courtesy of The Ormond Beach Observer
By Jarleene Almenas
Published February 14, 2019
intervened in a federal court suit filed by
its insurance carrier against Paramount,
receiving a $2.5 million settlement for its
The residents of the
Ormond Heritage Condominiums popped bottles of champagne on
Jan. 10 — 27 months after Hurricane Matthew — in celebration
of its $2.5 million claim settlement.
Board President Jerry Cutter bought 12 magnums and a large
cake for the 100 homeowners that attended the 15
minute-meeting held in the condominium's ballroom, the same
place they were all told in 2017 that mold had been found in
the building and all homeowners needed to evacuate.
"Life isn't getting back, it is back to normal," Cutter
After Hurricane Matthew, the previous board signed away the
condominium's claim to Paramount Disaster Recovery LLC via
an assignment of benefits contract. This relinquished all of
the condominium's rights to Paramount, which was put in
charge of handling the insurance claim.
In November 2017, as residents dealt with air scrubbers,
barricades and put up signs on their doors to keep Paramount
out of their units, a new board was put in place, and Cutter
became president. About 60 days later, the board hired
attorney Michael Ciocchetti to help them with the
Ormond Heritage Board President Jerry Cutter and
attorney Michael Ciocchetti in the Ormond Heritage ballroom.
It took almost a year and
a "hard, hard fought" legal battle, said Cutter, but Ormond Heritage is
finally closing its Hurricane Matthew chapter.
Paramount claimed $66 million
The stars aligned for Ormond Heritage. The condominium's insurance carrier,
Ariel Syndicate 1910, filed suit against Paramount in federal court over
Paramount's $66 million claim for Ormond Heritage.
Ciocchetti said Ariel defended its lawsuit on the basis that there was no
hurricane-related damage, and that any damage was pre-existing. It also
asserted that Paramount's $66 million claim was fraudulent. If Ariel had won
the lawsuit on that defense, Ormond Heritage would not have received any
money for its claim.
“The only way for us to counteract that was to intervene in Federal Court in
the action between Ariel and Paramount," Ciocchetti said.
Ciocchetti said they saw this as the quickest and most efficient way to
resolution, as well as a way to protect Ormond Heritage's interest in the
"Certainly, it’s the board’s position that there was some damage to the
property as a result of Hurricane Matthew," Ciocchetti said. "The
disagreement there, is the extent of the damage.”
Paramount claimed that all of the roof systems in the condominium were
damaged, all exterior walls needed to be stripped and that there was mold in
the wall cavity between the drywall and the exterior walls. Ariel, having
conducted an investigation where its experts and engineer's reports differed
from Paramount's findings, disagreed with the claim.
So did Ormond Heritage.
“While he was fighting the legal battle of intervention, we were fighting a
battle to restore the property, but the litigation was in the way of trying
to restore the property, so we had to work jointly," Cutter said.
Ciocchetti said the condominium presented about 20 unit owners during
litigation who got their own experts — some homeowners got a second opinion
as well — and found no mold in their units.
Paramount also shouldn't have claimed the roof Ciocchetti said, as the flat
roof is warranted by the roofing company for up to 140 mph winds. If it had
been damaged by Hurricane Matthew, the repairs would have been directed back
to the roofing company.
The $2.5 million settlement given to Ormond Heritage as a result of the
litigation was for repairing and replacing the tiles surrounding the flat
roof, repairing the outside wall scarring, and repainting and sealing the
"Because of [Ciocchetti's] involvement, we got a seat at the table," Cutter
Rise in morale
Ormond Heritage settled its claim in the litigation between Ariel and
Paramount on Dec. 6, 2018. It was a happy day, not only for the residents,
but for Ciocchetti.
His son was born.
The mood in the condominiums has also changed drastically. The current
board, which was re-elected in November 2018, is now working on restoring
the Ormond Heritage. Previously closed-off rooms like the library, billiards
and card rooms have been re-opened, and the board is working on renovating
some common areas.
Every week, Cutter said realtors and agents call them asking what they have
for sale and rent.
“The morale has been miraculous," Cutter said. "The change in the attitudes
— we had despair, we had people fighting amongst themselves...And in the 12
months we restored people’s confidence and trust.”