Franke, Schultz & Mullen, PC | Federal Jury Returns Defense Verdict in First Party Insurance Case
Kansas City - Springfield - St. Louis - Overland Park
This links to the home page
News & Publications

Federal Jury Returns Defense Verdict in First Party Insurance Case

In January of 2014, a fire occurred in the raised ranch home of the plaintiff.  The fire ignited in the family room and spread to the rooms adjacent thereto.  The fire department was immediately called and was able to extinguish the fire.  In addition to the fire damage in the family room, and rooms adjacent thereto, the home sustained smoke and/or water damage throughout the main floor, as well as water damage to the garage which sat below the fire and minor smoke odor throughout the basement.  At the time of the fire, the plaintiff had in effect a homeowner’s policy providing coverage for loss caused by fire. 

Upon notification, the insurance company offered the plaintiff the services of one of its preferred contractors to protect the property from further damage.  The plaintiff declined the offer advising that she had her own contractor.   Two days later, during an inspection of the property, the insurance company again advised the plaintiff of her obligations to protect the property as outlined in her policy of insurance.  However, despite receiving in excess of $130,000.00 from the insurance company to make repairs to her home, the plaintiff let the home sit for over two years after the loss, without making any repairs or undertaking efforts to protect the home from further damage.  During that time, as the home sat unoccupied, exposed to the elements and without heat or air conditioning, the basement developed a significant amount of mold.  The plaintiff claimed the mold resulted from the fire and the insurance company’s alleged failure to undertake remediation efforts after the fire.  The plaintiff additionally claimed that the insurance company did not adequately compensate her for her damages and further that the fire and resultant damages rendered the home a total loss.  The plaintiff filed suit against the insurance company seeking damages in in excess of the policy’s limit, including extra-contractual damages for the insurance company’s alleged vexatious refusal to pay.  The case was tried to a federal jury in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.  The jury unanimously returned a verdict in favor of the insurance company on both the breach of contract and extra-contractual damage claims.  The insurance company was represented by Nikki Cannezzaro.