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Florida’s state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has joined a chorus of insurance companies accusing the Strems Law Firm of lawsuit abuse. Citizens says it has lost millions of dollars due to an alleged scheme of “sham” claims by the law firm, a public adjusting company and restoration company.

Citizens also alleges a “pattern of racketeering activity in violation of [the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] RICO.”

The allegations came in a civil complaint filed against Fort Lauderdale-based The Strems Law Firm; attorney Scot Strems; public adjuster Guillermo Saavedra and his public adjusting firm Contender Claims Consultants (CCC) of South Miami; and All Insurance Restoration Services (AIRS) of Miami, its president Cesar I. Guerrero, and its operations manager Derek Parsons.

“This lawsuit is about what we contend are concerted actions by the defendants to abuse the claims process for their own gain, and to the detriment of both Citizens and our policyholders,” Citizens Spokesperson Michael Peltier told Insurance Journal. “These abuses have made it virtually impossible for Citizens to handle claims efficiently and effectively. We believe we had no choice but to file this suit to address the costs of these abuses that are shouldered by all Citizens policyholders through higher premiums.”

Citizens filed the complaint in the Second Judicial Circuit Court for Leon County, Fla., on June 16. The 26-page document details Citizens’ allegations of how Strems, his firm, CCC and AIRS acted individually and in concert to defraud the insurer into paying for “sham first-party property insurance claims.”

Representatives for Strems, CCC and AIRS did not return Insurance Journal’s request for comment on Citizens’ allegations.

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