California Casualty companies sued over couple's fire damage claim

Kelly Holleran Nov. 1, 2011, 10:41am

Two Illinois residents claim their insurance company refuses to pay them for damages they sustained after their home caught on fire.

Jarvia and Nickey Bryant filed a lawsuit Oct. 21 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against California Casualty Indemnity Exchange, California Casualty Management Company and Frontier Adjusters of Metro East/West.

The Bryants are seeking unspecified compensatory damages for damages caused to their home following a Dec. 28, 2009, fire, according to the complaint. They also seek repayment for water damage caused to their kitchen floor either as a result of the fire or from a water leak in their dishwasher, the suit states.

At the time of the fire, the Bryants claim they had insurance coverage though California Casualty Indemnity Exchange, which should have covered any losses sustained in a fire.

However, when the Bryants attempted to make a claim with California Casualty Indemnity Exchange, the company refused to fully compensate them, the complaint says.

"Defendants CCIE and CCMC ignored evidence establishing the amount of Plaintiffs' fire loss," the suit states. "Defendants CCIE and CCMC falsely claimed that Plaintiffs failed to comply with Policy provisions."

The insurance companies also threatened to have the Bryants prosecuted for fraud unless they dropped their claim to recover losses under their policy, the complaint says.

The Bryants allege breach of contract against their insurance companies.

They also name Frontier Adjusters of Metro East/West as a defendant, saying the company was hired by CCIE and CCMC to investigate the Bryants' alleged damages. When Frontier arrived at the Bryants' house, however, it falsely led the couple to believe it was an independent adjuster, according to the complaint.

"Frontier falsely represented to Plaintiffs the extent of damage caused by the fire," the suit states. "Frontier falsely represented to Plaintiffs the cause of damage to the dwelling. Frontier intended Plaintiffs would rely on Frontier's unfair and deceptive acts and omissions to abandon their claims, accept a lesser amount in value for their claims, or accept delayed payment of their claims."

Because of the insurance companies' and adjuster's actions, the Bryants claim they have suffered economic loss, mental anguish, humiliation and an unreasonable inconvenience.

In addition to compensatory damages, the Bryants seek attorney's fees, the maximum statutory penalty and other relief the court deems just.

Kenneth J. Brennan of Ken Brennan Law in Collinsville will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-597.

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