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Woltman v. American States Insurance Co.

October 20, 2006

JERRY WOLTMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMERICAN STATES INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY Chief U.S. District Judge

OPINION

On June 30, 2005, Defendant American States Insurance Company filed a Notice of Removal (#1) from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County. On May 13, 2005, Plaintiff Jerry Woltman had filed a complaint in that court alleging breach of insurance contract, improper claims practices, and consumer fraud relative to American States' handling of Woltman's claim for loss after a building Woltman owned burned down. On May 9, 2006, this court entered an Opinion (#30) granting summary judgment as to the consumer fraud count. On August 23, 2006, Defendant filed a second Motion for Summary Judgment (#50) as to the remaining counts. The matter is now fully briefed, and for the reasons that follow, summary judgment is DENIED.*fn1

FACTS

On November 10, 1998, American States issued property insurance to Woltman, a self-employed farmer, for a building located at 11 East West Street in Ridge Farm, Illinois. Woltman had purchased the mill and equipment in 1996 for $20,000 for the purpose of grinding grain. On October 7, 2002, a fire occurred at the property at approximately 2:45 a.m. As a result of the fire, Woltman lost a feed mill and certain fixtures on the property. These fixtures and other personal property include a receiving hopper, a receiving screw, a grinding leg, a five-hole discharge distributor, two two-way valves and one five-way valve, an oat crimper, a surge hopper for an oat crimper, an elevating conveyor for an oat crimper, a discharge screw and plenum, a hammermill, an air relief fan, an air relief cyclone, two three-ton vertical mixers, a screw conveyor, transitions, and support stands for equipment. The feed mill was insured for $409,600 and the feed mill equipment was insured for $400,000. Woltman reported the fire to American States on October 8, 2002. Sandra Parker, a general adjuster for American States, was assigned to his claim.*fn2

Regarding the method of valuing a loss, the insurance policy issued by American States indicates:

4. Loss Payment

a. In the event of loss or damage covered by this Coverage Form, at our option, we will either:

(1) Pay the value of lost or damaged property;

(2) Pay the cost of repairing or replacing the lost or damaged property, subject to b. below;

(3) Take all or any part of the property at an agreed or appraised value; or

(4) Repair, rebuild or replace the property with other property of like kind and quality, subject to b. below.

We will determine the value of lost or damaged property, or the cost of its repair or replacement, in accordance with the applicable terms of the Valuation Condition in this Coverage Form or any applicable provision which amends or supersedes the Valuation Condition.

The Valuation provision in the ...


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