WHEELING – An insurance company is seeking more than $300,000 from General Electric Company as reimbursement for more than $100,000 in damages it paid to a man and woman after it says a stove the electric company manufactured caused a fire at a Wheeling home.
In a federal complaint filed July 6, Encompass Indemnity Company claims a stove manufactured by General Electric was responsible for starting a fire on March 17, 2007, at Robert Sadler's and Mary Behrens's home in Wheeling.
Encompass insured Sadler's and Behrens's home at the time of the fire and was required to pay the residents more than $100,000 for their property and additional living expenses, the company claims in its federal lawsuit.
Originally, Encompass filed a lawsuit in Ohio Circuit Court, alleging it spent only $64,604.61 on Sander's and Behrens's claim, but adjusted the amount in an amended complaint it filed in federal court.
Encompass says GE should reimburse it for the money it spent because of a number of negligent acts the electric company performed, including knowing the property was subjected to a risk of harm from fire, selling Sadler and Behrens the property, failing to design the stove to be safe and distributing the stove with inadequate directions.
Although General Electric says it is without information to know whether or not its stove caused the fire, it contends it should have to pay no damages to Encompass.
"No warranty, express or implied was made by this defendant or arose by operation of law in favor of the Plaintiff as against this defendant, other than what was provided with the product by the manufacturer," GE's answer to the complaint states.
In the three-count suit, Encompass is requesting a judgment in excess of $300,000, plus interest and other relief the court deems just.
GE is asking the court to dismiss the suit, plus is requesting costs, including attorneys' fees.
Encompass will be represented by Bradley K. Shafer of Steptoe and Johnson in Wheeling. Joseph C. Bevis III of White and Williams in Philadelphia will serve of counsel.
GE will be represented by David K. Hendrickson of Eckert, Seamans, Cherin and Mellott in Charleston.
U.S. District Court case number: 5:09-CV-74