Insurer sues contractors over homeowners' chimney fire

By Kelly Holleran | Nov 24, 2009

An insurance company has filed suit against the company and contractors that installed a chimney at an Edwardsville couple's home, alleging a fire started in the chimney that caused more than $250,000 worth of damages to the house.

American Family Mutual Insurance Company claims it insured Kort and Rebecca Herman's property at 734 Riviera Circle in Edwardsville when a fire broke out on Jan. 15.

Prior to the fire, defendants Charles Gardner and Stan Hibbard added a chimney and fireplace to the Hermans' home, according to the complaint filed Nov. 18 in Madison County Circuit Court. Defendant Thermal Concepts placed insulation in the fireplace.

However, Gardner and Hibbard failed to use the proper enclosure required for a wood-burning fireplace and failed to install firestopping at the upper level of the chase, the suit states. In addition, Thermal Concepts failed to prevent blown-in insulation from intruding into the cavity of the fireplace enclosure, the complaint says.

As a result of the defendants' alleged negligence, American Family claims it was forced to pay about $269,802.77 to the Hermans after the fire.

In the two-count suit, American Family is seeking a judgment of more than $100,000, plus relief the court deems just.

It will be represented by Scott D. Bjorseth and David A. Schott of Hoagland, FitzGerald, Smith and Pranaitis in Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-1251.

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