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Owner of historic Michigan site denied insurance payments

An insurance firm is refusing to cover fire damage caused to a 125-year-old building in a small Michigan village, prompting the building's owner to sue the insurer in a U.S. District Court. The owner's attorney said the insurer sent the owner a list of reasons explaining why the damage is not eligible for coverage, though he did not elaborate on what those reasons were. Likewise, the insurance company has declined to publicly comment on the issue.

Authorities say the fire started in the early morning of Oct. 1, 2012 when an apartment above the business caught fire. That blaze eventually spread to the business below and several other historic buildings, severely damaging them. Fire investigators with the Michigan State Police eventually ruled the fire was set deliberately in order to damage the buildings that been a mainstay in the village for well over a century. However, officials say the investigation is still underway and no potential suspects have been identified at this time.

The owner's lawyer could not elaborate on whether the alleged arson was related to the insurer's decision not to offer coverage, but said his client is still a victim and deserves compensation. According to the lawsuit, the owner successfully passed two independent polygraph tests proving he did not start the fire. He said the owner will continue to run his catering business but hopes to reopen the restaurant with the payments he receives from the insurer.

An official with the village said she is unsure how the fire will affect the town, noting a number of its few independent businesses, including a hardware store, salon and re-sale shop were severely damaged. "The town was self-contained to take care of itself," she explained.

Business disputes such as this can be very complex, particularly when matters of insurance are involved. This makes it crucial for any individual or group in a similar situation to seek qualified legal assistance. This is the best way to ensure one's interests and legal rights are properly represented.

Source:, "Lawsuit: Insurer refusing to cover arson fire at historic downtown Byron building" Gary Ridley, Jun. 03, 2013

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