Chicago (North Shore):
By the time authorities finally cornered the offender under a porch, it was too late.
He had done enough damage that Vicki and Mark Royal and their four kids were forced to flee their house and move to a neighboring suburb as men in protective suits stripped the building to its studs and threw out most of their belongings.
When the family saw the skunk that started this ruinous chain of events, they were struck by one thing: "It was actually very cute," Vicki Royal said.
The situation remains dire nonetheless. A year into the ordeal, the Royals' 5-bedroom, 6.5-bath house on Sheridan Road in Highland Park remains devoid of carpeting, drywall, appliances and belongings—most of which they say had to be thrown away.
Clothes hang from racks in the garage, unworn because the Royals say they are "crunchy" after being treated with chemicals. Their son was called "skunk boy" at school.
Last July, an odor removal expert from the Chicago-based Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, sniffed the house with a Nasal Ranger, a foot long device worn over the nose. Dr. Alan Hirsch described the odor as "putrid, sewer-like, musty, swampy, musky, uriniferous and stale... It was like being slapped in the face," he said.
The Royal family is in a legal standoff with their insurer and recently filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Chicago:
They claimed the insurance company mishandled removing the stench and then tried to cancel their policy in August while it was still unresolved. They said they paid about $9,000 for insurance coverage in 2007.
Joe Norton, a representative for American International Group Inc., the parent company of American International Insurance in New York, said he could not comment because of client confidentiality.
The company, in a statement detailing the more than $500,000 it has paid toward the Royals' case, listed about $235,500 toward vendors for painting, landscaping and removing carpeting, drywall and appliances; and $169,000 to clean clothes, cover content loss and move the family. Another $100,000 went toward housing and feeding the family of six, first in a hotel, then at the Glencoe house, according to the statement, which was provided by the Royals.
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