CHARLESTON – A lawsuit against Erie Insurance Company alleging breach of contract has been removed to federal court.
The action is removable because the matter in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the action is between citizens of different states, according to the Nov. 22 notice of removal.
Erie is a citizen of Pennsylvania, while the plaintiffs, Woodrow Gillispie and Vicki Gillispie, are citizens of West Virginia.
Woodrow Gillispie and Vicki Gillispie own a residence in Logan County and purchased an ErieSecure Rental Insurance Policy that was effective from Aug. 31, 2016, to Aug. 31, 2017, according to the complaint, which was initially filed Oct. 20 in Logan Circuit Court.
The Gillispies claim after an inspection by Erie, the Gillispies were directed to make certain improvements to the dwelling at the residence premises, namely to install railing around the front porch, to repair uneven steps and to remove a solid fuel burning stove.
On Oct. 17, 2016, Erie mailed a notice of cancelation to the Gillispies with an effective date of Nov. 21, 2016, according to the suit.
The Gillispies claim prior to the receipt of the notice of cancelation, they had made the improvements as directed by Erie and provided photographic proof to Erie through one of its agents, Wesley Walls.
Upon receiving the notice of cancelation and a premium refund check, the Gillispies contacted Walls and Walls directly communicated that the policy was good and to dispose of the policy refund check, according to the suit.
The Gillispies claim Erie continued to accept automatic electronic funds transfers of premium payments after they nullified the policy.
On Aug. 26, the dwelling and construction material at the residence were totally destroyed by fire and the Gillispies timely provided Erie with notice of the loss and complied with all of the provisions of the policy, according to the suit.
The Gillispies claim Erie failed and refused to indemnify the plaintiffs pursuant to the policy agreement.
Erie breached its contract with the plaintiffs and willfully, maliciously and intentionally used unfair business practices in failing to settle the plaintiffs’ claim, according to the suit.
The Gillispies are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Jeffrey S. Simpkins of Simpkins Law.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:17-cv-04393