Granite City homeowners sue insurer for failing to defend builder

By Kelly Holleran | Jul 13, 2011

A couple wants to see an insurance company pay them more than $400,000 after they say it failed to provide defense for one of the company's insureds, who the couple sued more than three years ago.

Timothy and Lisa Ellsworth filed a lawsuit June 29 in Madison County Circuit Court against Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company.

In their lawsuit, the Ellsworths claim Grinnell insured Aaron Misukonis to protect him from property damages or any lawsuits arising from property damages at 3313 Preston Dr. in Granite City.

Misukonis constructed the Preston Drive home and eventually sold it to the Ellsworths, according to the complaint. However, the Ellsworths later discovered that the home had foundation problems, resulting in "many areas being ⅜ inch higher or lower than the average wall height, causing the sill plate to settle between the indifferent highs and lows, resulting in a wavy floor area," the suit states.

Because of the foundation issues, the Ellsworths filed suit against Misukonis on July 18, 2008, the complaint says. In August 2008, Misuknois requested Grinnell provide him with defense costs, the Ellsworths claim.

However, Grinnell refused to provide defense for Misukonis, saying the Ellsworths' lawsuit did not meet the definition of property damages as covered by the insurance policy, according to the complaint.

On March 14, Misukonis and the Ellsworths settled the lawsuit for $225,000, the suit states.

That same day, Misukonis assigned all claims he may have against Grinnell to the Ellsworths, the complaint says.

Now, the Ellsworths are suing Grinnell on behalf of Misukonis.

In their complaint, the Ellsworths seek a judgment of more than $470,000, plus costs and an additional $60,000.

Thomas W. Burkart of Burkart Law Offices in Hamel will be representing them.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-641.

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