Hylla set to hold pre-trial in State Farm breach of contract case

Amelia Flood Aug. 3, 2010, 7:30am


Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla is set to hold a pre-trial conference Thursday in a breach of contract suit brought against State Farm Fire and Casualty Company.

The suit was filed this year by a Granite City couple who claim the insurer refused to pay out on their homeowner's policy claims after a January 2008 fire destroyed their home.

The insurance company claims that the plaintiffs, Carl and Stephanie Tinker, failed to meet their obligations under the policy and that they misrepresented facts.

The pre-trial conference is set for 1:30 p.m.

In their second amended complaint, the Tinkers claim their Granite City home and its contents were fully covered by an insurance policy they purchased from the defendant.

Their home went up in flames Jan. 18, 2008, destroying the couple's personal possessions and the home.

The couple claims that the defendant refuses to pay their claims and that they have suffered damages in excess of $100,000 due to the refusal.

The Tinkers claim they have been embarrassed and humiliated by the defendant's conduct and allegations of arson.

They are seeking relief on claims of vexatious and unreasonable refusal to pay and breach of contract.

State Farm contends the Tinkers failed to comply with their duties set forth by the policy and that they cannot recover financially from the blaze because they misrepresented what property was lost in the fire.

The defendant also claims the Tinkers did not submit their statement of loss as required by the policy within the 60 day time frame and they did not produce needed records.

The defendants had moved to bifurcate the trial.

That move was denied by Hylla July 30.

The defense also has a summary judgment move pending.

The plaintiffs have until Aug. 4 to respond.

A similar suit filed in 2008 by plaintiff Brent Davis against Country Mutual Insurance Company went to trial earlier this year before Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth.

That trial ended with a $190,000 verdict for the plaintiff.

Country Mutual is seeking to overturn that verdict.

The plaintiffs are represented by Thomas Schwartz.

State Farm is represented by James DeFranco.

The case is Madison case number 10-L-37.

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