Defendants fight back in motorcycle fire lawsuit

Christina Stueve Hodges Jul. 31, 2012, 7:29am



A defendant accused of not reimbursing costs related to fire damage at a motorcycle repair shop has asked for more time to respond to a lawsuit filed in June in Madison County Circuit Court.

Defense attorney Tara Wiebusch for The Charles Crane Agency wrote in a July 26 motion that a request for extension of time is not made to delay proceedings but to enable the Crane Agency to prepare an appropriate response.

The Crane Agency received the complaint June 27 and requested up to Aug. 10 to respond.

In the lawsuit, a group of motorcycle owners in part blame a church for allowing their bikes to be destroyed by fire by failing to provide adequate water lines to a fire department attempting to fight a 2011 blaze at Joe's Hawg Doc in Pontoon Beach.

Eleven people claim they lost motorcycles worth about $282,000.

Following the blaze, the motorcycle repair shop owner sought compensation for damages from The Charles L. Crane Agency Company, but the company allegedly refused to reimburse.

Before the fire, defendant Peace Free Will Baptist Church placed a fire hydrant on its property, which the Long Lake Volunteer Fire Department attempted to use. The water line connected to the fire hydrant was the wrong size, causing the water pressure supplied to the fire to be "severely compromised," the complaint says.

The plaintiffs also name the Village of Pontoon Beach as a defendant because a responding officer allegedly failed to thoroughly investigate a call to the scene.

The village, in its motion to dismiss filed July 17, says the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege willful and wanton conduct and failed to state a cause of action.

The village also claims it cannot be held liable for damage to the plaintiffs' motorcycles.

Its officer responded to the business but did not observe broken windows or open doors and noted the business was secure, the motion says.

Madison County Judge William Mudge is assigned to the case.

William E. Miller III of Alton represents the plaintiff.

Daniel Farroll also represents the Charles Crane Agency. He and Wiebusch are with HeplerBroom in Edwardsville.

Ronald S. Motil of Beatty & Motil represents the Village of Pontoon Beach.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-838.

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