Em’s Tavern seeks coverage and defense costs from insurance company in lawsuit over bar brawl

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Apr 13, 2015

Em’s Tavern filed a third-party complaint against its insurance company, alleging it failed to provide coverage and defense costs in a lawsuit alleging a bar patron was struck with a beer bottle by another patron.

Terry G. Hamon filed his Dec. 1 lawsuit against Justin Laumbattus, doing business as Em’s Tavern, Brian Laumbattus and Christina Branham.

According to the complaint, Hamon claims he was visiting Em’s Tavern at 907 N. Main St. in Marissa on June 2, 2013, when patron Mark Marshall crept behind him and hit the right side of his head with a beer bottle. Prior to the incident, Marshall asked Branham, who was bartending, to “forgive me for what I am about to do,” the suit states.

As a result of the incident, Hamon alleges he suffered severe injuries to his face, head, ear and right eye and endured disability. He also alleges he incurred medical costs, experienced extreme pain and suffering, lost wages and became permanently scarred.

Harmon names Branham and the bar’s owners as defendants, saying they negligently failed to provide adequate security on the premises, failed to provide bartenders who could have prevented the attack, failed to train employees to take appropriate action, allowed Marshall to advance without warning on Hamon and allowed Marshall to remain on the premises even though he had been drinking whiskey all night.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss through attorney Daniel K. Juncker of Belleville on Jan. 8. They claim the complaint fails to set forth legally sufficient facts to support the relief prayed for, fails to state a cause of action as a matter of law and fails to allege a duty to the plaintiff as a matter of law.

On Jan. 9, the defendants also filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against Mt. Vernon Fire Insurance Company, claiming the insurance company has failed to provide coverage.

The defendants request an order requiring the insurance company to provide a defense and liability coverage, requiring it to pay attorney’s fees and an award of penalties for bad faith.

Mt. Vernon Fire Insurance Company responded by filing a motion to dismiss on Feb. 17. It claims “a third-party action cannot be used to maintain an entirely separate and independent claim against a third-party, even if that claim arises out of the same general set of facts as the main claim.”

The insurance company argues that the third-party complaint cannot be resolved without the presence of the insurance company in the original complaint.

Circuit Judge Robert LeChien scheduled a motion hearing for May 27 at 11 a.m.

Hamon seeks a judgment of more than $150,000, plus costs.

Juncker later withdrew as attorney for Justin Laumbattus and Branham, and Chet A. Kelly of Foley & Kelly in Belleville replaced him as counsel for Laumbattus.

John F. Watson and Brittany N. Meeker of Craig & Craig represent Mt. Vernon Fire Insurance Company.

Hamon is represented by Rhonda D. Fiss of Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 14-L-771

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