Ability to take bagpipe lessons gone; Couple seeks more damages from insurer

Kelly Holleran Aug. 10, 2011, 3:29am

A couple who has already been awarded more than $300,000 following a car accident has filed suit against their insurance company, alleging it refused to pay them more than $9,000 for damages they suffered following the same collision. Damages the couple alleges include an inability to take bagpipe lessons and an expense of nearly $2,000 per year for cleaning and lawn care services.

Thomas and Karen Linn claim they were involved in an automobile collision on June 8, 2009. At the time, the Linns had automobile insurance through defendant Liberty Mutual, according to their complaint filed June 22 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Following the collision, the Linns sent a demand letter to Liberty Mutual, requesting the company pay them their policy limits of $100,000, the suit states.

In their letter, the Linns say Karen Linn lost an opportunity to take the LSAT exam following the collision because of her inability to sit still through the test.

The couple sustained $37,000 in medical costs, the Linns claim. Karen Linn was disabled and has been unable to work because of her inability to drive following the accident, the couple's letter states.

"With regard to the loss of wages, Karen has been unemployed since October 2009 as the documentation included in this package will show," the letter states. "Her yearly salary with benefits was $64,293 with a monthly breakdown of $5,357.75. To date she has experienced a loss of $48,219.75 in wages and will continue to experience this loss."

Meanwhile, Tom Linn has experienced ongoing shoulder and neck pain, making sleep and daily activities difficult, according to the letter.

Because of his pain, Tom Linn can no longer perform household chores or activities and can no longer participate in his bagpipe lessons, the letter says.

"As a result of their injuries, the Linns have had to hire a lawn service and cleaning service to maintain their home," the letter states. "The lawn service for the spring clean up is $400, weekly lawn mowing is $36 a time and the fall clean up and removal of the leaves is $300, this comes to a total of $1,564 for the lawn care. The cleaning service is $80 twice a month for a cost of $1,920 per year."

After the Linns submitted their letter, Liberty Mutual agreed to pay them $9,000 -- not the $100,000 they demanded, the Linns claim.

The couple continued to demand $100,000 and went to an arbitration hearing on May 3, according to the complaint.

In the arbitration hearing, the Linns were awarded $375,000.

They filed the current complaint following the arbitration hearing, saying Liberty Mutual breached its insurance contract by failing to act in good faith with regard to the claim the Linns submitted, among other acts.

In their four-count complaint, the Linns seek a judgment of more than $200,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Stephen C. Buser of the Law Office of Stephen C. Buser in Columbia will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-336.

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