PINEVILLE—A Wyoming County couple sued their insurance company claiming breach of contract in its alleged denial of coverage following a 2013 house fire.
Douglas Lester and Donna Lester of Oceana filed a complaint against State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. of Bloomington, Ill., in Wyoming Circuit Court asserting a June 2013 breach of their homeowners’ insurance policy, originally purchased in June 2010 and renewed in June 2012.
According to the filing, the plaintiffs’ home sustained severe fire and heavy smoke damage on or about June 23, 2013. The suit states that State Farm obtained a third-party report Aug. 8 confirming the fire was caused by an accidental electrical malfunction of a table lamp power cord.
The Lesters claim they provided State Farm with an additional report on or about Aug. 8 from a professional engineer describing structural and water damage that compromised the home’s foundation. The engineer cited examples of displaced floor elevations, surface cracks, misaligned doorframes, and central column and girder weakening.
The complaint states that on Jan. 15, 2014, the defendant denied damages listed in the engineer’s report based on a subsequent Oct. 1, 2013, inspection which allegedly determined that those issues were pre-existing and unrelated to the June fire. The denial also referred to State Farm policy excluding damage from settling, cracking and other issues.
Alleging breach of contract, good faith and fair dealing, the plaintiffs claim incidental and consequential damages, annoyance, aggravation and inconvenience. The suit states that State Farm violated state law by failing to reach a prompt, fair and equitable settlement.
They seek compensatory and punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs.
The couple is represented by Stephen New and Amanda Taylor of the Law Office of Stephen P. New in Beckley. The case has been assigned to Judge Warren Randolph McGraw.
Wyoming Circuit Court case number 15-C-119