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Citizens awards $6.3 million contract to West Palm Beach law firm

Citizens Property Insurance will pay West Palm Beach attorney Scott Link $1 million annually for three years to oversee claims litigation.

The deal, inked Friday by Citizens Board of Governors, was part of a $6.5 million contract awarded to Link's firm.

State Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, likened the agreement to a "government giveaway" based on political connections. Artiles pointed out that former interim Citizens chief (and Rick Scott ally) Tom Grady once served as counsel for Ackerman, Link and Sartory.

"You can bring [the job] in house for a fraction of the cost," Artiles said at Friday's Board of Governors meeting in Orlando. "Citizens has a fiduciary responsibility to the state of Florida not to waste money on litigation."

But Citizens President Barry Gilway said hiring Link as "coordinating counsel" was the right move. Gilway noted that Link was already overseeing sinkhole claims, and that his efforts had saved policy holders millions of dollars.

"We need desperately the continued advice of the coordinating counsel that's represented in this procurement in order to make an impact going forward," Gilway said.

Citizens Chief Legal Officer Dan Sumner said having a coordinating counsel would save as much as $97 million in defense fees.

The Citizens board approved the contract by a 4-1 vote, with Vice Chairman Don Glisson voting in opposition. Board members Tom Lynch and Freddie Schinz abstained.

The vote drew criticism sharp criticism Friday.

“The giveaways to allies of Rick Scott at Citizens just keep coming, and they all seem wildly inappropriate,” said Sean Shaw, Florida's former Insurance Consumer Advocate. “The $525 an hour Citizens will be paying this attorney might be better spent launching an investigation into how Citizens continues to disrespect policyholders and taxpayers."

Gilway said there had been "no opportunity for bias in the bid" because it was competitively procured.

But even that came under fire. Artiles raised questions about the procurement process, and the process used to award the initial $1.5 million contract to Link's firm to oversee sinkhole claims in 2012. He said the first bid excluded too many qualified firms, and the second put too much emphasis on "coordinating counsel" experience.

Comments

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ed jenkins

The readers and citizens would prefer that the entire citizens company be shut down already so that we no longer have exposure to this looming fiscal disaster. Let private companies take the loss exposure.

FLMom

You voted for these crooks, Ed. This is their definition of 'free market'. Steal from the taxpayer and give that money to the cronies. You gotta love the wankers now unhappy with their choice.

Pablo

The GOP in Tallahassee is continuing its all out assault on Citizens policyholders. They are denying claims, forcing policy holders to litigate them in order to get them paid. Using policyholders premiums to hire high priced friends & lawyers to work against the policyholders. Giving away Citizens reserves paid in by policyholders to under-capitalized, start-up insurance companies formed by GOP contributors. Forcing Citizens policyholders onto under-capitalized, start-up insurance companies that will fold at the first hurricane. Backdoor premium increases like cutting out coverage for patio screening enclosures. Cutting mitigation credits by doing fraudulent home inspections. This is operating like an organized crime syndicate and there's nobody doing anything about it.

Supergobaby

The lede is in the third graf.....do newspapers hire editors any more or were they sacrificed on the altar of the bottom line?

ed jenkins

Losers in various bidding scenarios will always have conspiracy theories and whine about unfairness as the only thing they believe is fair is for them to be chosen which obviously is impossible to choose everyone. That this occurred is neither new nor is it newsworthy that someone lost a bid and is upset since hometown newspapers should not be printing one side of the story. However we only have the scumbag Crist to blame for putting this state in such a horrible position as to have to be on the hook for billions of dollars in losses when the inevitable bad hurricane season occurs as he greatly expanded Citizens coverage which it is unable to pay leaving it to us taxpayers. The despised former governor who is hearing from readers more and more would be best served to leave the race now so us democrat primary voters can have a real democrat to vote for and not some scumbag who goes from party to party while bankrupting the state with his antics.

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