Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth signed an order Nov. 4 allowing defendant Patricia Houseman of Eldred, Ill. to defend herself as a poor person without payment of fees, costs or charges.

First Collinsville Bank sued Dustin and Patricia Houseman in August for allegedly disconnecting a sump pump and leaving basement windows open at their home in Edwardsville.

After securing the property in July, the bank discovered it in a "decrepit condition," the suit states.

"Defendants had disconnected the electrical supply to the sump pump and left the basement windows open, which resulted in the basement and other areas of the property suffering extreme water damage," the complaint says.

On Sept. 28, Patricia Houseman, in her answer to the suit, indicated she is a single mom with a 14-year-old son, with a monthly income of $1,112, consisting of unemployment benefits. Her income is 125 percent lower than the federal poverty level.

She denied her conduct was sufficient to justify an award for exemplary damages.

In its complaint, First Collinsville Bank seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Kevin J. Stine of Mathis, Marifian and Richter represent the bank.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-851.

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