Couple claims State Farm exhibited 'plantation mentality' in settling claim

Kelly Holleran Jun. 30, 2010, 2:33pm

A Madison couple claims their insurance company refused to pay for water damages to their home and to reimburse them for lost documents because of the couple's race.

Kenneth A. Stanley Sr. and Bea A. Stanley filed a lawsuit June 16 in Madison County Circuit Court against State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, McCann Construction Company and State Farm agent Lisa Darr.

The Stanleys claims they owned an insurance policy through State Farm when their home at 1633 Third St. in Madison suffered water damages on April 24, 2008, after the fire department soaked the couple's home to prevent a nearby fire from spreading to their home.

Soon after the incident, the Stanleys reported their damages to State Farm, but say the insurance company has refused to provide them compensation. In addition, the Stanleys claim they provided State Farm with a detailed list of items stolen from their house after the water damages, but State Farm has also refused to compensate them for the stolen articles.

"Defendant State Farm's attitude, as exhibited by Defendant Lisa Darr, a Caucasian female, toward Plaintiffs, an African-American married couple, was recalcitrant, biased, racist, prejudiced, vexatious, and unreasonable," the suit states. "Defendant State Farm exhibited plantation mentality, bias against, racial animus toward, and prejudice against, the Plaintiffs both generally and in particular by Defendant Lisa Darr who made disapproving comments toward Plaintiffs as African-Americans and indicated Plaintiffs could not have owned the amount of property they claimed to have lost due to their race."

Although the Stanleys say State Farm has failed to compensate them for their damages, the couple does admit that the insurance company hired defendant McCann Construction Company to repair their damages and paid the construction company in full. However, McCann has failed to complete any of its work, the complaint says.

The Stanleys allege negligent infliction of emotional distress against State Farm and Darr, saying the defendants failed to secure the Stanleys' home, resulting in the theft of the Stanleys' possessions; repeatedly reassigned the Stanleys' claims to delay payment; accused the Stanleys of fabricating the theft claim; paid McCann to perform reconstruction work on the Stanleys' home even though the company has not performed the work; and refused to find an alternate contractor to work on the Stanleys' home.

Because of the defendants' actions, the Stanleys have suffered mental and emotional injuries, according to the complaint.

In their eight-count suit, the Stanleys seek a judgment of more than $400,000, plus attorney's fees and costs.

Randall P. Steele of Steele Law Offices in Glen Carbon will be representing the couple.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-633.

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