MASON CITY – The owners of a Mexican restaurant destroyed in a fire in 2007 who were awarded $236,901 in breach of contract damages from their insurance company by a Cerro Gordo County jury earlier this year are now suing the company for bad faith damages.Eric Updegraff of Stoltze & Updegraff, P.C., of Des Moines, legal counsel for La Casa Martinez owners Ben Villarreal Jr. and Cleo Martinez, said the new lawsuit was filed this week against United Fire & Casualty Company because under Iowa law if an insurance company acts in bad faith in failing to pay policy holders damages they are entitled to, the policy holder can sue again for any damages caused by the delay in receiving the compensation.Villarreal and Martinez didn’t receive the amount that covered the damage from the March 2007 fire until March of this year, when a jury returned a verdict in their favor, according to Updegraff.”A four-year delay has an effect on people,” he said.The lawsuit states the restaurant owners are seeking “appropriate compensatory damages, appropriate punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees, court costs and such further relief as the court may deem appropriate.”United Fire & Casualty Group is based in Cedar Rapids.The land at 400 Fourth St. S.W. where the restaurant once stood is now for sale.
What people say about UP
“This group provided valuable information and support for those who lost their homes in the Fourmile Fire two years ago and they have worked in many other communities that have suffered property damaging disasters. I recommend them without reservation.”United Way
“We cannot thank you enough for all your support, education and assistance through our recovery from the 2017 Tubbs Fire. Without all your input I have no idea how we could have recovered. We’re not quite there yet, but getting closer! Many, many thanks.”Christopher and Urmila - 2017 Tubbs Fire Victims
“The disaster recovery resources you provided helped many individuals and families.”County of Lake, CA
“Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the Third Supervisorial District and the County of San Diego.”County of San Diego
“(United Policyholders) provided helpful insights into the state of the current insurance market for earthquake, fire and flood coverage, and the critical rile insurance plays in the ability of our communities recover from such catastrophic events. You brought an important and unique perspective to the hearing, that of homeowners themselves.”California State Senate
“Whenever I felt confused about any topic I first looked it up in the yellow book. Then I could go deeper based on what I read. Or I knew when to call it good.”Wildfire Survivor 2014