Lawyer sues insurance company over hail damage

Christina Stueve Jul. 3, 2012, 10:28am


An attorney from Edwardsville filed a lawsuit June 25 in Madison County against State Farm Insurance after the company allegedly refused to pay damages for his St. Louis home after the roof sustained hail damage.

Michael Reda, a partner at HeplerBroom, also filed suit against Eberl's Claim Service Inc., William Joseph Van Vactor Jr. and Van's Adjusting Inc. He claims the defendants conspired to defraud him.

Reda demands $60,000, plus court costs for roof repair. He alleges Eberl's Claim Service had a contract to adjust claims for State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

According to the suit, after spending 30 minutes taking photographs and measurements, Van Vactor told Reda each roof suffered hail damage on July 23, 2011. Van Vactor gave Reda a business card, which showed he was an independent adjuster. The card also identified Eberl's Claim Service and State Farm Catastrophe Services, according to the lawsuit.

After Van Vactor told the plaintiff his home had hail damage, John Doe came to Reda's home and then climbed a ladder to the roof and garage with Van Vactor, the lawsuit stated. Doe came from Colorado and was an employee of Eberl's Claim Service and State Farm.

The suit states that Doe and Van Vactor spoke quietly, then descended the roof and went in the plaintiff's home to inspect storm damage. They were silent about roof damage, according to the lawsuit.

Van Vactor sent Reda a statement July 30, 2011, stating he discussed the loss with the plaintiff and advised the inspection "revealed no accident or direct physical loss to the front slope..." The loss statement showed two slates on the dwelling needed repair, the lawsuit states.

The letter by Van Vactor misrepresented the discussion he had with Reda regarding damage to the roofs before John Doe arrived, according to the lawsuit.

Reda contacted his agent and State Farm's claims representatives and reported that the loss statement and Van Vactor's letter were incorrect and contrary to the statement he made before John Doe arrived at the home, the lawsuit states.

After receiving the loss statement, Reda contacted several roofing companies, who prepared estimates for the replacement of the roof of the dwelling and garage, according to the complaint.

The plaintiff submitted the estimates to State Farm which demanded payment of the full replacement cost for the roof on the dwelling and the garage, according to the complaint.

State Farm insisted the plaintiff obtain a repair estimate as it stated its adjuster and inspector determined the roof could be repaired and did not need replacement, the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff was not obligated to obtain "repair" estimates, the suit states. Obtaining repair estimates is not a condition for coverage and when State Farm insisted the plaintiff do so it misrepresented the policy and violated the rule of Missouri Department of Insurance Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, according to the lawsuit.

The amount of roof damage stated by Van Vactor, John Doe, Eberl's and State Farm, with the defendants' knowledge were made to defraud and were made with the knowledge of their falsity, were relied on by the plaintiff and damaged by the plaintiff, the lawsuit stated.

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis is assigned to the case.

Reda represents himself.

Madison County Case number 12-L-892

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