Church Mutual Insurance Co., an insurance company specializing in policies for churches, has asked a federal court to absolve it from paying a claim by the widow of a central Nebraska pastor who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a house owned by the church he led. John Green, who had been pastor of Clay Center Christian Church for 23 years, was found dead in the home on November 19, 2009. His wife, Cheryl, was found unconscious and was flown to an Omaha hospital. According to the authorities, the pair had been poisoned by a carbon monoxide leak from the home’s heating system.
Cheryl Green had planned to file suit against the church in an effort to get its insurer to pay nearly $260,000 in lost wages, as well as more than $55,000 for medical bills incurred by the poisoning and $10,000 for funeral expenses. But Church Mutual Insurance Co. filed its own suit in federal court and is taking the position that the church’s policy excludes coverage for carbon monoxide and other pollutants.
Church Mutual claims the exclusion means the insurer shouldn’t have to pay the claims. Even the lawyers representing Clay Center Christian Church dispute that and say Church Mutual is “jumping the gun and filing this case to try and escape their responsibility to live up to their obligations under the policy.” Jeff Downing, a lawyer who represents the Church, says that Cheryl Green is still a “loved and cared-for” member of the church who should not have to fight an insurance company to cover the costs of losing her husband. He also made this interesting observation:
Church Mutual tout themselves as the largest insurer to church congregations, and their website fairly well documents that point. One of the ways they do that as by marketing themselves as a company that “at every point of contact creates a relationship that’s about more than just business.” We believe they should be held to that representation.
The insurance company’s filing of its own lawsuit is a typical tactic – a pre-emptive strike – when an insurance company is trying to get out of paying a claim. It’s a tactic that has been utilized by a number of companies that we have dealt with. When it happens, the insured, who in many cases is dealing with an adjuster when the company files suit without warning, is shocked. In this case, Church Mutual filed its own suit before Cheryl Green and the church could file their own lawsuits against the company.
Source: Insurance Journal
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.