Following a two-day bench trial in May, Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder on July 14 entered a $138,325.34 judgment in favor of Granite City residents in their suit against Country Mutual Insurance.
Crowder found that Country Mutual acted in bad faith when it refused to pay Charles and Kim King an appraisal award for damages caused to their home during an April 19, 2011 hail storm.
"The Kings have sustained their burden of proving vexatious and unreasonable refusal to pay the award," Crowder held. "Section 155 of the Illinois Insurance Code is designed to deter insurers from denying claims without adequate evidence; to discourage insurers from profiting by delay; and 'to secure to the insured the full benefit of the bargain from the insurance contract' - a bargain which is denied if the policyholder is forced to incur litigation expenses to recover what he is due under his policy."
According to case background, the Kings had requested Country Mutual pay for storm-related damage to their home at 1306 27th St. in Granite City. In turn, the insurance company sent the Kings a check for $3,594.90, which was significantly less than the amount of damages the Kings claim they incurred.
“Plaintiffs submitted to defendant a sworn statement in proof of loss for the damages to the insured premises, in the amount of $132,049.08, for the full cost of repairs,” their suit stated.
Still, Country Mutual refused to pay the Kings more money than it had already given them, even though an appraiser has set the amount of damages at $130,861.58, they claimed.
The judgment awarded to the Kings was calculated as follows:
$130,861.58, amount of umpire's award
-$3,954.90, previously paid by insurer
$12,418.66, prejudgment interest
Crowder also allowed attorney fees and other litigation expenses, plus $60,000.
David L. Antognoli and Teri L. Havron of Goldenberg, Heller, Antognoli and Rowland in Edwardsville represented the Kings.
The Kings were ordered to file an affidavit of legal expenses within 14 days.
Country Mutual was given 14 days to object to the legal expenses. If it does, a hearing will be held.
Country Mutual is represented by Cornelius McKnight of McKnight Kitzinger Pravdic in Chicago.
Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-1474.