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Farmers Insurance drops flood lawsuit against Will County, municipalities

Updated: July 23, 2014 6:42AM



Farmers Insurance dropped its class action law suit against Will County and 12 of the county’s municipalities. The suit had claimed the governments did not do enough to prevent flood damage in April 2013.

“We hoped that by filing this lawsuit we could encourage cities and counties to take preventative steps to reduce the risk of harm in the future,” Farmers spokesperson Trent Frager said in a statement. “We believe our lawsuit brought important issues to the attention of the respective cities and counties and that our policyholders’ interests will be protected by the local governments going forward.”

The lawsuit was filed by Illinois Farmers Insurance Company and Farmers Insurance Exchange and its subsidiaries. It named Will County as a defendant, along with Naperville, Bolingbrook, Plainfield, New Lenox, Joliet, Shorewood, Manhattan, University Park, Homer Glen, Frankfort, Channahon and Lockport.

Local officials called the suit frivolous.

“We are very happy that they came to their reasonable senses,” said Steven Quigley, executive director of the Will County Governmental League.

Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland said that his village has gone to extreme lengths to exceed federal and state laws concerning waste water disposal systems.

“We were very comfortable that we are doing everything that we can to protect residents,” Holland said. “The lawsuit was not going to go anywhere in the Village of Frankfort.”

“It was no surprise, no surprise to me that it was going to be dismissed,” said Lockport Administrator Ben Benson. “We assumed the courts were going to play out in our favor anyway.”

The dismissal order was filed in the Will County Circuit Court on June 9. Quigley said the suit was dropped before all the communities met as a group. He didn’t know how much was spent on defense, but expected that some municipalities likely have already started legal discussions.

“If it’s $5,000, then it’s $5,000 that local governments didn’t need to spend (on defending the lawsuit),” Quigley said.

“We believe our lawsuit brought important issues to the attention of the respective cities and counties, and that our policyholders’ interests will be protected by the local governments going forward,” Frager said. “Therefore, we have withdrawn the suit and hope to continue the constructive conversations with the cities and counties in Chicagoland to build stronger, safer communities.”



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