Molly English-Bowers Dec. 17, 2015, 1:48pm


The owner of Thiems Construction Company is suing an insurance firm for failing to properly defend the Roxana construction company in a lawsuit that resulted in a nearly $1 million judgment, which was later affirmed by the Fifth District Court of Appeals.

Gary Thiems and Thiems Construction Company filed a lawsuit on Nov. 20 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against United Fire & Casualty Insurance Company, alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, bad faith, and willful and wanton disregard of the contract between them.

According to the complaint, on April 15, 2009, a claim was made against Thiems Construction, which was insured by United Fire. The contract between the two obligated the defendant to defend the claim and allowed the plaintiff to hire its own attorney to defend the case, the suit says.

The lawsuit states United Fire breached the insurance contract when it failed to settle the claim within policy limits, exposed the plaintiff to damages the defendant says were not covered by the contract and failed to communicate adequately with the plaintiff or plaintiff's counsel throughout the claim.

Thiems and his company received a judgment against them of $765,000 on Sept. 27, 2013. Because the plaintiff expected the defendant to pay the judgment, the insurance company appealed the decision. It was later affirmed by the Illinois Fifth District Court of Appeals. The Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

On Oct. 5, the judgment was satisfied, including interest, in the amount of $904,000, the suit states. However, until the defendant paid that judgment, the plaintiff says he and his company were exposed to a substantial verdict in a willful and wanton matter.

Before the defendant paid the judgment, Thiems says he used a personal line of credit to pay the $904,000 to satisfy the claim. 

Thiems seeks to recover that amount, plus 4 percent interest since Oct. 5. The plaintiff also requests a trial by jury and is represented by attorney Jon E. Rosenstengel of Bonifield & Rosenstengel PC of Belleville.

St. Clair Circuit Court case number 15-L-666

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