Owners of Dupo rental property are seeking more than $500,000 from State Farm Fire & Casualty over its alleged failure to pay a fire loss that occurred last year.

GC Properties 1 and Gene Clements filed suit Feb. 10 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Among other things, the plaintiffs say State Farm refused to pay based on its "deliberate, intentional, scheming, vexatious and unreasonable reliance and false attribution of 'financial motive for arson fraud'" in spite of the fact that he swore under oath that he had no knowledge of such a scheme.

Clements also claims that he provided alibi evidence as to the whereabouts of he and his wife - who were home together in bed - when the fire occurred on Feb. 11, 2014 at 109 South 4th St. in Dupo.

He claims that a State Farm investigator, agent, and a deputy state fire marshal "barged-in" on his wife at their home attempting to interview her and take her statement "unannounced, without an appointment."

Clements states that State Farm never requested in advance to interview his wife, but rather chose an "ambush'style" of attempted interview.

He further claims that the defendants refused to adequately investigate the insurance claim, "especially rejecting the accidental fire causation of electrical wiring fault."

Clements also states that State Farm refused to adequately investigate the possibility of arson by or on behalf of a disgruntled ex-tenant who had been subject to eviction proceedings which deprived her of a storage facility, "as she had been using the subject dwelling structure for that purpose without paying rent to Plaintiffs."

The plaintiffs say that prior to suit being filed, State Farm "offered to pay nothing, no amount whatsoever," and has not provided a reasonable explanation for the basis of denial.

"Defendant has engaged in activities, including denying coverage for covered claims, particularly fire insurance property damage claims, which result in compelling policyholders, including these Plaintiffs herein, to institute lawsuits to recover amounts due under its policies by the Insurer offering substantially less than the amounts ultimately recovered in lawsuits brought against it by its own Insureds," the suit states.

Clements alleges that agents of State Farm acted on "a personal vendetta, frolic and detour, with personal animosity toward Plaintiffs."

The plaintiffs seek $450,000 in lost rental income, more than $60,000 in penalties and for fees, in excess of $15,000 from State Farm agents over their alleged tortious interference and in excess of $15,000 from the company for property damage to the rental property. They also seek interest and litigation costs.

GC Properties and Clements are represented by William Daniel of East St. Louis.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-43.

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