Church not responsible for destroyed Harleys, motion says

Christina Stueve Hodges Sep. 12, 2012, 11:44am


A Pontoon Beach church being sued by 11 motorcyclists for allegedly not providing adequate water lines to fight a fire that destroyed their motorcycles has filed a motion to dismiss.

Defendant Peace Free Will Baptist Church filed a motion to dismiss Sept. 4, claiming it is not responsible for, or negligent in any way, with the fire on June 14, 2011.

The lawsuit alleges the church was negligent in failing to use the proper size water line, failing to advise local businesses and residents of the inadequacies of the fire hydrant and "negligently and carelessly holding out the fire hydrant to the general public, including that the fire hydrant was a duly operating fire hydrant when it was not so."

According to the motion to dismiss, the church has no duty to provide a fire hydrant to assist other landowners in suppressing fires on their property.

"Arguably, if any duty exists to ensure adequate water pressure, it would fall upon some municipality or government agency," the motion states.

"If a municipality which provides and services fire hydrants and fire departments does not owe a duty individually to provide a sufficient water supply, it follows a fortiori that a private individual does not have such a duty. There is simply no duty owed by the Church in this case.

"In terms of the plaintiffs' conclusion that the Church negligently and carelessly 'held out' such fire hydrant to the general public as a duly operating fire hydrant, the complaint is devoid of any factual allegations supporting that contention."

Eleven people claim their motorcycles were at Joe's Hawg Doc, a motorcycle repair shop at 3719 Horseshoe Lake Road in Pontoon Beach, when the building caught on fire, destroying the motorcycles.

The lawsuit described seven of the motorcycles as Harley Davidsons and two of them as custom motorcycles.

The suit claims that Long Lake Volunteer Fire Department attempted to use a fire hydrant located on the church's property during the fire, but the water line connected to the fire hydrant was the wrong size, compromising the water pressure.

The plaintiffs also named The Charles Crane Agency and the Village of Pontoon Beach in the lawsuit.

Madison County Judge William Mudge is assigned to the case.

James Craney of St. Louis represents Peace Free Will Baptist Church.

William E. Miller III of Alton represents the plaintiff.

The case is Madison County case number 12-L-138.

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