Full Defense Verdict Brought In On $2,000,000 Property Insurance Claim

In a hotly contested homeowner’s property insurance claim, David Bub and Tyler Finnegan recently brought in a full defense verdict for Auto Club Family Insurance Company. The Plaintiffs owned a home in an upscale village in St. Louis County, Missouri, which suffered a basement fire in early 2016. The Plaintiffs claimed to have suffered a loss calling for payment of the full combined residential and contents policy limits of $2,140,800.00. Vexatious refusal damages were also claimed, but successfully pushed to being dropped in the lead-up to trial.

The Plaintiffs alleged that their home held a value in excess of $1 million dollars before the fire and that the value was reduced to virtually nothing as a result of the fire. Their claim was largely based on a $1,311,630.36 repair estimate. The majority of damage to the home was asserted to be from smoke resulting from fire, as opposed to the limited fire itself. The Plaintiffs also claimed that they were not sufficiently compensated by Auto Club for several thousand items of personal property claimed to have been damaged. Prior to suit, Auto Club had paid $612,580.76 on the contents and dwelling.

David and Tyler put on extensive evidence overwhelmingly disproving the Plaintiffs’ claims. Using an expert appraiser, post-fire inspection testimony and photography, and the Plaintiffs post-loss sale of the home—which still stood structurally sound, without any fire repairs—David and Tyler were able to show that the Plaintiffs had been fully compensated for the fire damage. This evidence was compounded by expert electrical engineering testimony and the opinions of multiple contractors, including two that had been previously employed by the Plaintiffs, that the cost and scope of repairs needed for the home was significantly less than claimed. As to the contents, David and Tyler brought multiple specialty cleaning companies to the stand to show that items which Plaintiffs disputed the salvageability of had been thoroughly restored to pre-loss condition.

Throughout the week-long trial, David and Tyler’s diligently prepared case showed the St. Louis County jury without a doubt that Auto Club had gone above-and-beyond in meeting their obligations to the Plaintiffs and that plain, objective facts simply did not support the lingering dispute. It took the jury only about an hour to decide on their unanimous defense verdict!