Around midnight on August 14, 2021, Lebanon Mayor Mark Messer’s house caught fire. The house and the personal property inside were destroyed as a result.
Allstate, the Messers’ insurer, investigated the fire and found it “more likely than not” to have been intentionally caused by the actions or directions of the insured, according to a letter filed in US District Court last week.
The investigation also found that it was more likely than not that Messer provided incorrect information or concealed information related to the fire and loss of property.
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Messer and his wife filed a lawsuit in Warren County Court of Common Pleas against Allstate for breach of contract and bad faith in June.
Messers’ attorney Matthew Brown said in a statement to The Enquirer that the Messers’ lives were “turned upside down” by the fire and that they have been providing information to Allstate for many months in an effort to rebuild their house and their lives.
Brown said Allstate denied every request Messers made for information about the fire and has refused to honor its commitment to stand by its policyholders in times of tragedy.
“Only after they were sued did Allstate respond in an attempt to cover up their failure to protect their insured in this tragedy by making false and malicious claims. We look forward to bringing this case to court and holding Allstate accountable for for their insured,” Brown Brown. said.
The questioner called and emailed the two attorneys representing Allstate in the lawsuit, but did not immediately receive a response.
In their complaint, the Messers said Allstate implied that certain documents were required under the insurance policy when they were not. They also said Allstate’s “dragging” in investigating the fire means the cost of rebuilding their house has risen significantly.
In court documents, Allstate denied misrepresenting the insurance policy and any delays in processing the Messers’ claims.
In November 2021, Allstate asked the Messers to produce documents, including tax returns, bank statements, phone records and documents related to the house’s remodeling. Allstate also requested access to Messers’ personal Facebook archive, according to the complaint Messers filed.
The Messers said they provided the documents and access because Allstate indicated the documents were required under the insurance policy.
Allstate denied asking for anything not required under the policy. The company said Messers responded to some, but not all, of its requests for information.
Allstate said in a letter to the fairs that its investigation determined it is more likely than not that the fairs “falsified and/or concealed information” related to where they were and what they were doing around the time of the fire and the phone calls and texts with certain people on the day of the fire.
The Ohio Fire Marshal is investigating the fire. The cause remains unclear.
Erin Glynn is the watchdog reporter for Butler, Warren and Clermont counties through the Report For America program. The questioner needs local donors to help fund her grant-funded position. If you want to support Glynn’s work, you can donate to her Report For America position on this website or email her editor Carl Weiser at [email protected] to find out how you can help fund her work.
Do you know something she should know? Drop her a note at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ee_glynn.