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East Troublesome survivor finds career inspired by recovery

Amanda Shindledecker lost her home in 2020’s East Troublesome Fire. Two years later, she took the LSAT as she fights insurance companies for families like hers.

GRANBY, Colo. — Amanda Shindledecker has spent the last two years fighting a battle that’s inspired a new career.

Shindledecker lost her home in 2020’s East Troublesome Fire in Grand County. Two years later, she is intent on rebuilding, but says delays from her insurance company has slowed the process.

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“We filed our insurance claim…called adjusters, called adjusters, called adjusters,” she said. “It was pulling teeth to get someone to call us back.”

When an adjuster finally did an assessment on her home, Shindledecker said another adjuster called months later.

“We have another adjuster who said, 'Well, the original adjuster hadn’t put anything together…we need to start over,'” she said.  “'I need you to send me everything you sent the previous adjuster.' And we were like, are you kidding.”

She said she and her husband tried to get the insurance company to settle, but they wouldn’t. So, the couple hired an attorney in town, Natascha O'Flaherty with Never Summer Law, LLC.

“I became a little obsessive I think about insurance law in Colorado,” Shindledecker said. “So, I read all of the statutes.”

“I’d have conversations with [O’Flaherty] and would say, 'Well, isn’t it under this statute that they should be doing this?' And she’d be like, 'Oh yeah, no, you’re right. You’ve got this memorized and you know this better than most lawyers do.'”

O’Flaherty offered Shindledecker a job and paid for her to train to be a paralegal. Now, Shindledecker works for Never Summer Law.

“I’d just developed a passion to help people…because I didn’t like the way they were being treated,” she said in an interview at the law office on Friday, which marked two years since the fire.

Through her work at the law office, Shindledecker testified before the state legislature and helped get a law passed to reform natural disaster insurance in Colorado.

She also works daily with her neighbors who’ve lost homes and continue to fight their insurance companies.

“I’ve had a number of people say we wouldn’t want to have anyone else fighting for us but you because you’ve been there… you’ve lived this,” she said. “You know the pain we feel.”

Two years after the fire, only about a third of the homes that burned are permitted for rebuilds, but many of those homeowners continue to face delays because of their insurance companies.

“When I get the text that says, 'I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for us…we never thought we would see this day'… those are the best moments,” Shindledecker said. “It usually makes me teary eyed.”

Shindledecker filed a lawsuit against her insurance company on Thursday. She took her LSAT last week and plans to attend lawsuit to pursue a career as an insurance attorney.

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