A frustrated earthquake claimant is starting a hunger strike today outside the Christchurch offices of Government-owned insurer Southern Response.
It’s not a decision that has been taken lightly for Peter Glasson, who has battled Southern Response for the past seven years after his home was badly damaged in the 2010 and 2011 quakes.
He has taken Southern Response to court and has also been spied on.
Now he and his wife Anne say they have been left with no choice.
“We have had enough of the tactics that SR is using to refuse to resolve our claim,” Glasson said.
“We were in court ready to proceed on a hearing of our case on 13 November last year then two days prior to the case starting, Southern Response offered us less than half of what they had offered us previously, simply to intimidate us before the hearing. The intimidation and bullying tactics by Southern Response are never-ending.”
The Glassons have been informed that their court hearing, which has been filed in the courts since May 2016 will be at least a year away, and possibly longer, as a result of what Glasson calls, “outrageous delaying tactics and cunning manipulation of the process” by SR’s lawyers.
“Things like changing experts in order to get the answers they want and manipulating the court process to slow things down, and those are just two of the tactics they are using,” he said.
“Southern Response is ruining our lives, affecting our health but we will not let them finish us off.”
Now five months later, and after the trial was supposed to have taken place, Southern Response wants to visit the Glassons’ house with another 12 people to undertake further investigations.
“Southern Response and its various engineers and experts have already undertaken 16 separate visits of the house,” Glasson said.
“They have now requested a 17th site visit with engineers who have already been to the house six times. This is simply intimidation in a war of financial and psychological attrition.”
Southern Response says it “remains sympathetic” to the Glassons’ situation.
Chief executive Anthony Honeybone said Southern Response first became aware that the Glassons had issues with their house foundations when they filed legal proceedings against the company in May 2016.
“We started working with the Glassons to settle their claim from this point and, after we were able to broadly understand their issues, we offered to mediate with them. Unfortunately mediation was unsuccessful,” Honeybone said.
“Southern Response has offered to actually undertake the work to repair the Glassons’ house. We have, however, been unable to agree on the extent of damage and what repairs are required.”
Southern Response says it hoped to have the claim resolved through trial, which was due to take place in November last year.
It says “extensive new evidence” was filed by the Glassons the day before the trial was to commence and the trial did not go ahead.
“Given the volume of this new material, and the introduction of new witnesses, Southern Response needs the opportunity to properly consider and respond to this evidence,” Honeybone said.
“We are currently waiting for Mr Glasson to allow Southern Response’s experts access to the house to consider the new evidence he has presented.
“Southern Response remains sympathetic to the Glassons’ situation but, given the circumstances, we are following the timetable set by the court.
“We share their commitment to facilitating a fair resolution of the court proceedings, and their claim.
“Southern Response has offered to meet with the Glassons as soon as we have the additional information we need from the site visit.
“We understand how frustrating additional visits must be but new evidence was introduced and we need to make sure we understand how it affects settling the claim. We would also be open to another mediation with the Glassons rather than waiting for a court date later this year.”
The Glassons say they have gone above and beyond to assist the resolution of their claim – they’ve followed all the processes they should have and spent a massive amount of money along the way – necessitating taking out a mortgage on their house.
Glasson says he will no longer be “bullied and intimidated” by Southern Response.
“I will continue this hunger strike, no matter what the personal consequences, until I have achieved resolution of our claim with Southern Response”.