southtownstar
CHARMING 
Weather Updates

Insurer sues over flood liability

Updated: June 1, 2014 6:45AM



Farmers Insurance Co. has filed a lawsuit in multiple counties in northeastern Illinois, including Cook and Will, contending that it’s not responsible for widespread flood damage from heavy rains a year ago because the damage was “completely preventable,” according to a company spokesman. Trent Frager said the suits were also filed April 17 in DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry LaSalle and DeKalb counties. The Will County suit also names 12 towns as defendants, including Homer Glen, Frankfort, New Lenox, Lockport and Manhattan.

The suits allege that the counties and municipalities failed to take action to adequately prevent and limit the extensive flooding that occurred in April 2013.

Farmers and its subsidiaries claim in the suits that the defendants failed to install and properly operate sewer systems, retention basins and detention basins, resulting in the excessive flood damage, according to a published report.

“Farmers has taken what we believe is the necessary action to recover payments made on behalf of our customers, for damages caused by what we believe to be a completely preventable issue, as well as to prevent it from happening again,” according to a company statement.

Frager declined to say how much the insurance company is trying to recover.

On Tuesday, several county or municipal officials in Will County were unaware of the lawsuit.

Anastasia Tuskey, spokeswoman for County Executive Larry Walsh, said the office had not seen the suit, and “on the advice of legal counsel will not comment on pending litigation.”

Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland said his village had not been notified of the suit but said Frankfort has very strict stormwater and sewage systems in place.

“Our rules are stricter than the federal and state standards,” he said. “I am very comfortable that our community is doing what we should do.”

Last year’s flooding was “not widespread,” in Frankfort but was “isolated to a few incidents, which can happen in an extreme rain,” Holland said.

“This is news to us,” New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said when asked about the Framers suit. “We have not been served, and I don’t know anything about it. I have to see what it says before I can comment on it.”

Manhattan Mayor Jamie Doyle said he had not seen the lawsuit, adding that “I don’t know what they are doing it for.”

Homer Glen Mayor Jim Daley declined to comment.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.