Steve Korris Nov. 8, 2013, 12:23pm

Before landlord Ed Sieron can pursue a claim for fire damage under a tenant’s insurance policy someone must figure out where he lives.

Metropolitan Casualty Insurance identifies him as a Florida resident for jurisdictional purposes in a federal civil suit, and Sieron claims he lives in Illinois.

He signed an affidavit on Oct. 15, swearing that his primary residence is 116 Country Club Place in Belleville.

“I intend to remain in Illinois and keep my Illinois residence as my primary residence,” he stated.

Residence matters because Metropolitan Casualty sued a Sieron corporation, E&L, in federal court at St. Louis, and E&L sued Metropolitan Casualty in St. Clair County.

Metropolitan Casualty removed the St. Clair County suit to federal court in East St. Louis, and moved to transfer it to St. Louis for consolidation with the original suit.

As judges on both sides of the river ponder the mystery of Sieron’s residence, another mystery surrounds his former tenant, Danisha Combs.

Metropolitan Casualty’s motion to transfer the Illinois action to Missouri states that, “Suspiciously, Danisha Combs has been excluded as a party to the instant suit.”

In the Missouri suit, she missed a Nov. 4 deadline to answer the insurer’s complaint.

The docket shows no lawyer has appeared on her behalf.

It shows service of a warrant on Combs on Oct. 12, but the court website declares, “You do not have permission to view this document.”

Combs lived at 1529 N. 43rd St., in East St. Louis, until the home caught fire last year.

In January, she claimed a loss of $180,862.50.

Metropolitan Casualty sued Combs and E&L at federal court in St. Louis on Sept. 13, claiming they misrepresented her as owner of her home.

“At the time of the loss, Metropolitan understood that E&L was the mortgagee of the subject property, based on prior representations consistent with that understanding,” attorney Robert Cockerham of St. Louis wrote.

He wrote that Combs and representatives of E&L admitted under oath that they made false statements or concealed and misrepresented facts and circumstances.

Sieron sued Metropolitan Casualty in St. Clair County on Sept. 24, alleging breach of contract and claiming the insurer owed E&L $63,473.79.

Sieron’s lawyer, Stephen Clark of Belleville, wrote that Combs paid the premiums but assigned any insurance payment to a debt she owed E&L.

Metropolitan Casualty removed the St. Clair County suit to federal court on Oct. 9.

The insurer invoked diversity jurisdiction as a Rhode Island company, alleging Sieron lives in Florida.

Clark’s partner Charles Courtney moved to dismiss the Missouri action the next day, pleading that E&L is not incorporated in Missouri or allowed to do business there.

Cockerham opposed the motion on Oct. 17, writing that E&L did not contest the allegation that Sieron is a Florida citizen.

Sieron moved to remand the Illinois action from federal court to St. Clair County on Oct. 18, and he attached his Oct. 15 affidavit.

He swore that he is a member of St. Clair Country Club in Belleville, Rotary Club in East St. Louis, and Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Belleville.

“I file Illinois state income tax from my primary residence,” Sieron wrote.  “I have an Illinois driver’s license.

“I am registered to vote in the state of Illinois.”

On Oct. 23, Courtney moved to amend his motion to dismiss the Missouri action.

Cockerham opposed the amendment on Oct. 30, writing that E&L claimed the affidavit was unavailable at the time it filed the motion.

“E&L’s argument concerning the unavailability of the affidavit is ridiculous since counsel for E&L could have obtained such an affidavit from the supposedly local client at any point before the expiration of the deadline for filing the motion to dismiss.”

He called Sieron’s affidavit “self serving and incomplete.”

District Judge Charles Shaw presides over the Missouri action.

District Judge Phil Gilbert presides over the Illinois action.

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