Locally renowned disc jockey and radio personality Jerry Blavat, also known as the “Geator with the Heater,” has filed a complaint against FEMA claiming insufficient coverage of his Hurricane Sandy-damaged nightclub, Memories in Margate.
Memories, which Blavat has owned since 1972, “suffered catastrophic damage” during the storm, resulting in loss of property and interior and exterior renovations.
Blavat filed the complaint against the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Camden federal court March 17, claiming FEMA “breached its contract” by undervaluing the property damage caused by the storm and covered by his policy by refusing to pay the full cost of the damage.
“We were completely destroyed, and the insurance company has paid some of it but not hardly enough to cover the loss,” Blavat said.
Through the complaint, Blavat is requesting FEMA pay for what he believes to be the actual cost of the storm damage as well as consequential damages, attorney’s fees and court costs related to the complaint. His insurance policy provided $350,000 of coverage, of which he’s received about $295,000 after several delays and revised estimates.
Blavat’s public adjuster, Bob Hillis, of Hillis Adjustment Agency in Bensalem, Pa., said the delays and repeated estimate revisions forced Blavat into legal action.
“He had no other choice, and they owe it to him,” Hillis said.
Audwin Levasseur, a Bergen County attorney handling his case for the Houston-based Voss Law Firm, said Blavat’s claim is just one of the more than 1,000 Sandy-related claims the Voss firm has handled since the storm and is among the more than 100 he has handled himself.
“There’s definitely been a recent spike in Jersey shore property owners filing complaints against FEMA over flood insurance disputes, and there’s a number of property owners from Cape May to Bergen County who are still trying to settle their claims,” Levasseur said. “The volume of the claims has even caused the court to strategize how to arrange them all.”
He said the large number of claims reflect the wide-ranging and lingering impact of Sandy.
“This storm was that ‘what if’ scenario property owners have insurance for,” Levasseur said.
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