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News stories highlighting what happens in the days, weeks and months following hurricanes in Central Florida.

Two victims of flooding from Hurricane Ian file lawsuit against Good Samaritan Society

Maureen Kotch, left, and Luann Bishop are still looking for a home after flooding forced them from their apartment in Osceola County.
Joe Byrnes
/
WMFE
Maureen Kotch, left, and Lucille "Luann" Bishop are still looking for a home after flooding forced them from their apartment in Osceola County.

Two seniors from Osceola County who lost almost all their possessions when their community flooded during Hurricane Ian have filed a lawsuit last week against Sanford Health and its affiliate the Good Samaritan Society.

Thelawsuit seeks up to about $50,000 in damages, alleging negligence, a failure to warn, misrepresentation and exploitation.

The two women, Maureen Kotch and Lucille Bishop, had moved into an apartment at the Good Samaritan Society's Kissimmee Village in June, three months before the storm.

The large senior community had flooded five years earlier. But the lawsuit says the company denied the flood risk and that a sales representative said the problem had been fixed.

The lawsuit also claims that afterward the company exploited the vulnerable seniors by coercing them into signing a liability waiver beore they could receive their security deposit.

As of Friday, the women still lived in a FEMA-funded hotel room.

One of their attorneys, Jeffrey Hussey with Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, blames the Good Samaritan Society for that.

"Good Sam's negligence has basically made them housing insecure," he said. "And we want to make sure they have secure housing for the rest of their lives."

Hussey said he has spoken with many Kissimmee Village evacuees.

"There has been some misnomer out there that we're filing a class-action lawsuit, which we're not filing a class-action lawsuit," he added. "Any lawsuits that we file would be on an individual basis."

In a prepared statement, Good Samaritan Vice President of Operations Aimee Middleton said the company "does not comment on pending legal proceedings.'

She added that it is consolidating services in seven core states. So it is leaving Florida and "will gradually transition to new senior care providers."

"However," she said, "following the impacts of Hurricane Ian, the Good Samaritan Society is committed to working through the recovery process in Kissimmee Village before a transition takes place in order to best support our residents, employees and families."

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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