Home destroyed by termites decade after botched extermination, householders say

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House destroyed by termites decade after botched extermination, homeowners say

FRANKLIN — A termite company was found grossly negligent when it came to treating a home eaten by the pest they were hired to destroy and prevent.

Mindi Simoneaux turned to 2 On Your Side after a four-year legal battle with Sugarland Exterminating Company. Simoneaux has moved out of her house and has been living in a mobile home for four years while her house is gradually being demolished.

The Simoneauxs first found termites at their home in Franklin, La. in 2009. To eradicate the pests, they hired the Sugarland Exterminating Company to treat and inspect their home annually. In 2018, Simoneaux said she was at home and found “millions of termites” when a tile appeared in her bathroom.

“Every board we tore down just fell out of the walls, it was absolutely gross,” she said.

The nightmare continued as the demolition dragged on. Simoneaux was instructed to continue tearing down boards from her house until she found the last living termite. The last living termite has never been found.

“The kitchen is completely gone, the outside walls are gone, all my bathrooms are ripped out,” she said.

Simoneaux and her husband received their award from the arbitrator last month and say the sum they receive will go towards court costs and paying off the mortgage on the house they cannot live in.

“They admitted they didn’t treat our house properly from the first contract signing,” she said. “They only sprayed 38 percent of the state-required chemicals in our home. They did not drill our hollow block piers and they did not excavate and treat the entire property.”

Simoneaux says the termites discovered in 2009 may have been the same colony found in 2018 because “no one knows if they were ever eradicated.”

“I thought they were doing their job, they were putting on an amazing termite show by spraying chemicals,” Simoneaux said.

Termite companies are regulated by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. LDAF inspects pest control companies through routine inspections and complaint inspections. On average, LDAF conducts approximately 1,400 structural inspections per year and resolves approximately 150 structural complaints per year.

LDAF inspected the Simoneaux home following their complaint in 2018. The inspector’s report states that there were no visible signs of treatment in the immediate vicinity of the home’s hollow block pillars. The state ordered her house duly retired.

The state says some pest control companies use commission-approved standard state termite contracts and some companies use commission-approved company-specific termite contracts.

Simoneaux says the system is flawed. In her case, she could only handle her case through arbitration.

“Something needs to change about that, there needs to be more inspections with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture to make sure these companies are doing it right,” Simoneaux said.

Sugarland’s attorney made the following statement in response to this story.

The Simoneauxs and Sugarland entered arbitration with a mutually agreed upon arbitrator. Despite Sugarland’s position, there was no wrongdoing, respecting the tribunal’s finding. The arbitrator found that Ms. Simoneaux was not entitled to any claim, and Mr. Simoneaux received a fraction of what he and his attorneys were asking for. Clearly disappointed by the award, the Simoneauxs are trying to justify themselves by attacking a family business that has enjoyed an excellent reputation in Acadiana for over 50 years.