Breach of Insurance Contract/Vexatious Refusal

Style of Case: Raymere Oglesby v. Country Mutual Insurance Company
Client:    Country Mutual Insurance Company
Trial End Date:    6/5/2013
Court:    Third Judicial Circuit, Madison County, Illinois
Type of Case:    Breach of Insurance Contract/Vexatious Refusal
Judge:    The Honorable Thomas Chapman
Reed Armstrong Lawyer who tried the case:  Tori L. Walls
Jury Verdict


The plaintiff claimed Country Mutual Insurance Company breached the terms of her homeowner’s insurance policy by refusing to pay the full amount she believed she was owed under the policy for the costs of accessing her sewer line to determine the cause of a sewer backup in her basement. The plaintiff further claimed that Country’s refusal to pay the full amount she claimed was vexatious. The parties stipulated and agreed that repair of the compromised sewer line was not a covered loss under the policy and further stipulated and agreed that the only covered loss was costs for accessing the sewer line in order to make the determination that the sewer line was compromised and the costs of concrete to re-cover that specific access point. The plaintiff introduced an invoice into evidence from the plumber who repaired the sewer line indicating that 20 feet of concrete was removed and 20 feet of sewer line was exposed and repaired. It was the plaintiff’s position that the entire 20 feet of concrete was removed for the sole purpose of determining whether the line was clogged, deteriorated or otherwise compromised by wear and tear. The plaintiff claimed she was owed a total of $6,240.00. The plaintiff presented testimony from a plumber who had inspected the property a few days before the trial but was not the plumber who performed the work listed in the invoice. The testifying plumber had no personal knowledge of whether or not the plumber who did the work determined the sewer line was compromised after simply putting a camera in the line or whether only a couple feet of the sewer line had to be exposed to make that determination. The Country claims supervisor testified that Country had previously compensated the plaintiff for costs associated with clean-up of her basement as well as for some of the concrete costs associated with accessing the sewer line. The claims supervisor testified that a Country claims adjuster wrote an estimate for accessing the sewer line and repairing that portion of the concrete, but had only accounted for 4 feet of concrete removal, because a determination of whether the sewer line was compromised could be made from a 4 foot access point versus exposing 20 feet of sewer line to make that determination. It was Country’s position that pursuant to the policy, the only additional amount owed to the plaintiff was $1,535.40. The evidence showed that Country had offered to pay that amount to the plaintiff but the plaintiff rejected the offer.

The court awarded the plaintiff, which is the amount Country agreed the plaintiff was entitled to under the insurance policy and the amount defense counsel recommended the court award. The court further found in favor of Country on the vexatious refusal claim.

Last Demand:     $2,500.00
Verdict:     Defense Verdict on Vexatious Refusal; $1,535.40 for plaintiff