Legal & Courts  January 2, 2024

Marshall Fire victims sue insurers

BOULDER COUNTY — Last week and just days before the two-year statute of limitations for Marshall Fire-related lawsuits lapsed, a pair of Boulder County families whose homes were allegedly damaged or destroyed in the blaze sued their insurance companies, claiming that the insurers breached the terms of their policies. 

Superior residents Scott Eshelman and Holly Tarabori-Eshelman are suing Farmers Insurance Exchange, along with contractor True North Restoration LLC.

The family’s home “was inundated with smoke plumes propelled by high winds, embedding the exterior and interior of the Home with toxic fire particulates and combustion by-products,” according to the complaint filed in Boulder County District Court. “Extensive amounts of soot, char, ash and toxic fire particulates were found inside and throughout the Property, as confirmed by both visual and industrial hygienist lab samples.”

After Farmers representatives allegedly dragged their feet on assigning a contractor to remediate the fire’s impacts, the Eshelmans filed a complaint with the Colorado Division of Insurance, which, according to the complaint, resulted in a meeting with Farmers’ staffers who recommended True North.

After remediation work was performed and the Eshelmans were able to move back, the family began experiencing symptoms of a number of physical and mental ailments, the complaint claims. A physician recommended that the family have their home evaluated, after which a professional contractor determined that the “home was not safe for occupancy,” the complaint said. 

Scott Eshelman then “took it upon himself at his own expense to remediate the home by personally cleaning the property and documenting his findings, removing and replacing all carpets, replacing the entire HVAC unit that had previously failed cleaning, and replacing most furniture to make the Home safe for his family,” the lawsuit said. “As a result, the symptoms experienced by plaintiffs and their children began to improve, and the symptoms eventually stopped after the foregoing remediation work was completed.”

The lawsuit claims that Farmers failed to properly reimburse the family while True North failed to perform the agreed upon scope of work.

Louisville residents Christopher Pritchard and Regina Pritchard, who claim to have completely lost their home in the Marshall Fire, sued State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. last week, claiming that the insurer failed to provide compensation commensurate with their destroyed home’s value that would allow them to purchase a replacement dwelling. 

As part of the policy contract, “State Farm agreed to repair, rebuild, and replace damaged property with materials of like kind and quality,” the complaint said. Last March, the family “notified State Farm of their intent to purchase a home already under construction in lieu of rebuilding their home on the original loss site. Plaintiffs advised State Farm that the home under construction being purchased was of similar size and quality, and that the builder would be providing details on costs attributable to ordinance and law coverage.”

The insurer has allegedly offered reimbursement that is hundreds of thousands dollars less than the contract price of the replacement home.

“The filing of a lawsuit does not substantiate the allegations within the complaint,” a State Farm spokesperson told BizWest in an email. “We’ve recently learned of the filing. So, it’s premature to comment at this time.

The court cases are Christopher Pritchard and Regina Pritchard v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., case number 2023CV31132 filed Dec. 28, 2023 in Boulder County District Court; and Scott Eshelman and Holly Tarabori-Eshelman v. Farmers Insurance Exchange and True North Restoration LLC, case number 2023CV31128 filed Dec. 28, 2023 in Boulder County District Court.

BOULDER COUNTY — Last week and just days before the two-year statute of limitations for Marshall Fire-related lawsuits lapsed, a pair of Boulder County families whose homes were allegedly damaged or destroyed in the blaze sued their insurance companies, claiming that the insurers breached the terms of their policies. 

Superior residents Scott Eshelman and Holly Tarabori-Eshelman are suing Farmers Insurance Exchange, along with contractor True North Restoration LLC.

The family’s home “was inundated with smoke plumes propelled by high winds, embedding the exterior and interior of the Home with toxic fire particulates and combustion by-products,” according to the complaint filed in Boulder…

Lucas High
A Maryland native, Lucas has worked at news agencies from Wyoming to South Carolina before putting roots down in Colorado.
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