House destroyed by termites decade after botched extermination, homeowners say
FRANKLIN - A termite company has been found grossly negligent when it came to treating a home that was eaten by the pest they were hired to destroy and prevent.
Mindi Simoneaux reached out to 2 On Your Side following a four-year legal battle with Sugarland Exterminating Company. Simoneaux moved out of her home and has been living in an RV for the last four years while her home is torn down piece by piece.
The Simoneauxs first found termites in their Franklin, La. home in 2009. To eradicate the pests, they hired Sugarland Exterminating Company to treat and inspect their home annually. In 2018, Simoneaux says she was home and found "millions of termites" when a tile popped up in her bathroom.
"Every board that we pulled off they would just fall out of the walls, it was absolutely disgusting," she said.
The nightmare continued as demolition dragged on. Simoneaux was instructed to continue tearing boards off her home until she found the last living termite. The last living termite was never found.
"The kitchen's completely gone, the exterior walls are gone, all my bathrooms are ripped out," she said.
Simoneaux and her husband received their award by arbitrator last month and says that the sum they are receiving will go toward court costs and paying off the mortgage for the house they can't live in.
"They admitted that they failed to treat our home correctly from the initial signing of the contract," she said. "They only sprayed 38 percent of the required chemicals by the state at our home. They did not drill our hallow block pillars and they did not trench and treat the entire property."
Simoneaux says the termites that were discovered in 2009 could have been the same colony found in 2018 because "no one knows if they had ever been eradicated."
"I thought they were doing their job, they put on a fantastic termite show by spraying chemicals," Simoneaux said.
Termite companies are overseen by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. LDAF inspects pest control companies through routine inspections and complaint inspections. On average, LDAF conducts about 1,400 structural inspections per year and responds to about 150 structural complaints per year.
LDAF inspected Simoneaux's home following her complaint in 2018. The investigation report says there were no visible signs of treatment in close proximity to the hollow block piers of the home. The state ordered her home be retreated, properly.
The state says some pest control companies use the commission-approved, state standard termite contracts and some companies use commission-approved, company-specific termite contracts.
Simoneaux says the system is flawed. In her case, she was only able to handle her case through arbitration.
"Something has got to change with that, there needs to be more inspections with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture to make sure these companies are doing it correctly," Simoneaux said.
Sugarland's attorney provided the following statement in response to this story.
The Simoneauxs and Sugarland entered into arbitration with a mutually agreed upon arbitrator. Despite Sugarland’s position there was no wrongdoing, it respects the finding of the tribunal. The arbitrator found that Mrs. Simoneaux was entitled to nothing, and Mr. Simoneaux received a fraction of what he and his attorneys demanded. Obviously, the Simoneauxs are disappointed with the award and are unfortunately seeking vindication through an attack of a family-owned business that has maintained a stellar reputation in Acadiana for over 50 years.
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