Insurer accuses local business of falsely reporting lightning strike, equipment damage

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Mar 16, 2011

Two Groves business are being used by their insurance company for allegedly falsely reporting damage to their equipment by lightning strikes.

Continental Western Insurance Co. filed suit against Lipeke Investments Ltd. and Chemical & Petrochemical Inspections on Aug. 27, 2010, in the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. The case was transferred to the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division on March 10.

According to the lawsuit, Neil Liepke, managing director of the defendant companies, reported that on Dec. 14, 2009, the property was struck by lightning. Liepke reported that computers, lab equipment and other business property was damaged and that he suffered a loss to business income.

The insurance company extended $20,000 in business interruption coverage and hired vendors to investigate the claims.

Continental Western investigated the lightning strike claims and determined that there was no physical evidence of a lightning strike, no reported lightning strikes within two miles of the location and no records of interruption of utility service.

Continental Western states that the defendants' policies contained provisions regarding concealment, misrepresentation or fraud, which voids the policies' coverage.

The plaintiff is asking the court to make a determination that Continental Western is under no duty to indemnify Liepke Investments and Chemical & Petrochemical Inspections for the claims arising from the alleged lightning strike at the property.

Continental Western is represented by Jamie P. Cooper of Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom in Houston and Mark J. Dyer of Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom in Dallas.

U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:11-cv-00126

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