Rental property owner sues Allstate for denying fire claim

Steve Gonzalez Aug. 25, 2008, 8:30am

Allstate Indemnity was named in a breach of contract suit filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court on Aug. 21.

The plaintiff, Courtney Burrell, alleges a fire damaged one of his rental properties located at 514 North 36th Street in East St. Louis on June 12, 2007.

According to Burrell, he filed a claim on July 21, 2007 and Allstate denied the claim on Nov. 9, 2007 alleging he misrepresented nine material facts.

Burrell alleges all nine reasons for denying his claim were either directly or indirectly related to Allstate believing he was involved with starting the fire in an attempt to collect insurance proceeds.

He claims he has repeatedly stated he had nothing to do with the fire and has complied with his contractual obligations by paying his insurance premiums.

Burrell claims Allstate's breach of contract has caused him to sustain damages in that his rental property remains damaged causing him to lose rental income because Allstate refuses to pay for repairs.

He also claims that on Jan. 25 his lawyer informed Allstate that a neighbor had observed a utility pole on fire before the house fire suggesting that an electrical malfunction caused the house fire.

Burrell also claims his lawyer provided several pictures of melted insulation running the length of the home, photos of burned wire and an affidavit from the neighbor stating the fire started at the utility pole.

According to Burrell, Allstate was vexatious and unreasonable in denying the claim because they failed to investigate the claim by failing to speak with neighbors, failing to look for alternative causes of the origin of the fire and refusing to supply any support of claims that he started the fire.

He is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus costs. In addition, Burrell is asking the court to penalize Allstate 60 percent of his total judgment for their denial of his claim.

Jim Ellis of Belleville represents Burrell.

08 L 424 (20th Circuit)

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