Jury Agrees With Insurer Claim That House Explosion Was Intentional
Walter Zabrodski v MetLife Auto & Home Insurance
02CH-20208 (transferred to Law Division)
- Verdict: Not Guilty
- Special Interrogatories: Did the Plaintiff intentionally cause the explosion which occurred on Feb. 9, 2002, either by his own hand or by another at his direction or request? "Yes."
Did the Plaintiff make any material misrepresentations to Defendant MetLife during the course of its investigation of the explosion? "Yes."
- Judge: Glenn Seiden and Sara M. Collins of Azulay, Horn
- Pltf Atty: Michael S. Agruss of Karlin & Fleisher
- Demand: none
- Asked: $301,818
- Deft Atty: Peter W. Schoonmaker of Condon & Cook (Metropolitan Property & Casualty)
- Offer: none
- Pltf Experts: Julius Ballanco (Mechanical Engineer) and Dan Daniels, Alliance Consulting Group, 460 Renaissance Dr., Park Ridge, IL (847-699-9450) (Adjustor)
- Deft Experts: John E. Malooly, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms, U.S. Treasury Dept., 1S450 Summit Ave., #250, Oakbrook Terrace, IL (630-268-0965) (Explosives), Karl Humbert, Cook County Sheriff's Dept., Maywood, IL (708-865-4900) (Explosives), Blair W. Schultz (Forensic Scientist) and Fred Kruse, Hutton Kruse & Fink, 1130 Lake Cook Rd., #292, Buffalo Grove, IL (847-419-0369) (Accountant/CPA)
A natural gas explosion occurred at 2:08 a.m. at Plaintiff's residence in Palos Park. Plaintiff M-72 retiree submitted an insurance claim to Defendant MetLife seeking recovery under his homeowner's policy ($221,643 dwelling damage, $14,675 damage to personal property, $5,500 temporary repairs, $1,500 per month additional living expenses for 40 months). The claim was denied based upon Defendant's conclusion that Plaintiff intentionally caused the explosion and/or made material misrepresentations to Defendant during the course of its investigation of the claim.
Defense contended Plaintiff had intentionally caused the explosion either by his own hand or through others at his direction by rigging an incendiary device consisting of a halogen lamp hooked to a timer set to go off at 2:00 a.m., an accelerant was placed on the halogen bulb, the lamp was placed outside the utility room, and a natural gas line to the water heater inside the utility room was intentionally disconnected, thereby exposing the gas which then ignited when the lamp was turned on. Defense further asserted the incident was rigged to look like an accidental explosion.