Jury finds for plaintiff in Maryville insurance pay-out suit

Amelia Flood Jun. 16, 2009, 7:00am

The jury was out less than an hour before it awarded a Maryville-based company just over $80,000 the company had been seeking from its insurance company.

Plaintiff TMEG Inc. which owns a Maryville restaurant that was gutted by fire in 2004, claimed its insurance company breached its contract when it denied a supplemental claim TMEG made for funds to rebuild the site.

The insurance company, Illinois Casualty Company, argued that the plaintiff had failed to give it written notice of its rebuilding intentions during a 180-day period specified in TMEG's insurance policy.

In his closing statement Tuesday, plaintiff attorney Ryan Mahoney asked the jury to look at the evidence and what he said were multiple assurances from his client to the insurer that the rebuilding was going to take place.

TMEG's Maryville property was destroyed in a November 2004 fire.

Mahoney told jurors that public insurance adjuster Daniel Long, who testified Monday afternoon, had clearly notified Illinois Casualty of the plans and that the insurance company had never indicated up to its denial in early 2006 that it would not pay out the added $80,000. The company paid out over $390,000 under other parts of TMEG's policy.

Mahoney cited builders' bids and faxes sent to the company as proof they had been notifed.

"If that's not clear that they were rebuilding, I don't know what is," Mahoney said. "They're looking for another loophole to not pay."

Defense counsel John Cunningham thanked the jury for its service and asked them to look beyond any possible resentment they might feel about insurance companies. The case was a simple matter of the clause stipulating written notification was required and the plaintiff did not provide it.

"I would ask all of you to hold firm to your belief that contracts should be honored as written," Cunningham said.

The jurors returned a unanimous verdict for TMEG. The jury granted them $80,626.63 as Mahoney had requested in his opening statement and closing argument.

Immediately following the jury's dispersal, attorneys from both sides began conferencing to discuss times to take up the plaintiff's request for pre-judgment interest and other matters. None of the attorneys were immediately available for comment.

Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison II presided.

Mahoney and David Antognoli represented TMEG. Cunningham represented Illinois Casualty.

The case was Madison case number 07-L-741.

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