State Farm Insurance and a Belleville couple claim a contractor  who is suing them is at fault for using a ladder he was not authorized to use and for failing to secure it properly.

Kenneth D. Mantooth filed a complaint on Oct. 16 against Jeff Thompson, Robert and Vicki Hall and State Farm Insurance Company for negligence.

According to the complaint, Mantooth, an independent roofing contractor, and Thompson, a State Farm field claims representative, were inspecting the roof of the Halls’ residence on Eidmann Road in Belleville to assess storm damage and provide an estimate for the cost of repair on Oct. 18, 2012. Mantooth says Thompson retrieved a ladder from his State Farm vehicle and invited Mantooth to climb to the roof, but as Mantooth reached roof level, the ladder slipped straight down the wall, causing Mantooth to fall and sustain injuries to his back, head, neck, ribs and hand.

Mantooth accuses Thompson of negligence for improperly placing the ladder against the home and failing to anchor it. He accuses State Farm of negligently training its employee. He accuses the Halls of failing to warn the plaintiff, a visitor to their property, about the danger of placing the ladder on a slick surface that was not readily apparent.

The Halls answered the complaint on Nov. 7 denying the allegations against them. Instead, they claim Mantooth’s own negligence contributed to his alleged injuries.

State Farm answered the complaint on Nov. 24 also denying the allegations against it.

It argues in its affirmative defenses that Mantooth was not authorized to use the ladder. The insurer also says Mantooth caused his own injuries when he adjusted the ladder so its base was too far away from the structure, causing an unsafe and unstable angle. He also allegedly failed to ask someone to hold the ladder while he ascended it.

Mantooth seeks more than $50,000 in damages, plus costs.

Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot scheduled a status conference for March 16 at 9 a.m.

Robert G. Jones of The Jones Law Firm in Belleville represents Mantooth.

Michael P. Murphy of Freeark, Harvey & Mendillo, P.C., in Belleville represents the Halls.

James DeFranco and Ginny Huot of DeFranco & Bradley, P.C., in Fairview Heights represent State Farm.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 14-L-694

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