Jury sides with insurer in blaze

  • Follow Metro

A federal jury wasn't convinced a Burke County couple burned down one of their homes, but the jury did decide the homeowners misled the insurance company.

Tuesday's verdict in U.S. District Court means Allstate Insurance Co. doesn't have to pay a $80,000 claim filed by Thomas and Janice Mitchell.

The Mitchells' home on Creek Road in Girard was damaged by a Jan. 14, 2006, fire and destroyed by a second fire on Feb. 18, 2006.

Allstate denied the Mitchells' claim for damages, alleging the fires were intentionally set and they were the obvious suspects. Allstate also contended the Mitchells were not living in the home at the time of the fires, violating a condition of the contract.

The Mitchells countered that their purchase of a second home did not mean they had abandoned the Creek Road home. Mr. Mitchell was living there at the time of the fires, their attorney Richard Ingram argued in closing.

The Mitchells have worked steady since high school and paid their bills on time, Mr. Ingram said. No one but Allstate questioned their honesty, he said.

"Somebody with a lot of malice did this," he said.

Allstate's attorney Joseph H. Barrow argued to the jury that the company wasn't suggesting the Mitchells were in financial ruin.

But getting $80,000 for a 14-year-old trailer home, "That's motive," Mr. Barrow said.

No one has been prosecuted for the fire.

According to testimony during the two-day federal trial, a neighbor of the Mitchells' had a motor home set on fire the night their property was destroyed.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (10) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 09/19/07 - 03:29 am
0
0
"$80,000 for a 14 year old

"$80,000 for a 14 year old trailer home"? Was this a single wide or a prefab? Strange, incomplete reporting. The owners weren't charged, but the fire was considered arson?

3bears
0
Points
3bears 09/19/07 - 05:41 am
0
0
ins. co. will allways get out

ins. co. will allways get out of paying. there crooks.

csralookout
287
Points
csralookout 09/19/07 - 06:21 am
0
0
sounds a little fishy to me.

sounds a little fishy to me.

wsm141
115
Points
wsm141 09/19/07 - 06:32 am
0
0
Insurance company had no

Insurance company had no problem accepting the premium for this home now did they?

blackjack30
1
Points
blackjack30 09/19/07 - 06:32 am
0
0
The house was torched and

The house was torched and they did it. Set it on fire, didn't completely burn, came back three or four days later and completed the job. Mitchel was not living in the home--there was no furniture in it. Trailor was a double wide.

justus4
107
Points
justus4 09/19/07 - 07:18 am
0
0
Law breakers them all. The
Unpublished

Law breakers them all. The Mitchells probably are involved and knows more than they are letting on. Again, its the jury thats bailing them out, because they too dislike insurance companies and want to see them pay. Find out whose on the jury, and rest all 'bout "getin paid."

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 09/19/07 - 08:06 am
0
0
Blackjack, that sounds like

Blackjack, that sounds like spatial assumption, were you there or just fueling the imagination?

whitescorpion
2
Points
whitescorpion 09/19/07 - 08:53 am
0
0
Insurance companies will

Insurance companies will always accept the premium. The measure of a good insurance company is how they behave once you file a claim. I don't know anything about this case, but on face value I tend to disbelieve the homeowner.

t of i
25
Points
t of i 09/19/07 - 08:58 am
0
0
Was this the couple who had

Was this the couple who had lost several previous homes in fires?

HHSgrad
7
Points
HHSgrad 09/19/07 - 09:30 am
0
0
Not all insurance companies

Not all insurance companies are crooks. An insurance policy is a legal binding contract and a homeowner policy states that it has to be OWNER OCCUPIED. If the Mitchells' were not living in it at the time of either fire, that will void the policy and the Insurance Co does NOT have to pay. The insurance policy also states that "Under Dwelling and Other Structures Coverages, we do NOT cover loss resulting directly from: vandalism or malicious mischief, including intentionally set fires (which is ARSON). If the Fire department ruled this to be a case of ARSON, the insurance company does NOT pay. People need to read their insurance policies more carefully before laying blame on insurance companies.

blackjack30
1
Points
blackjack30 09/19/07 - 07:53 pm
0
0
pofwe, I know them.

pofwe,

I know them.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs