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Insurance company drops lawsuit over 2013 flood damages

Published: Monday, June 16, 2014 4:34 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:40 a.m. CST

Farmers Insurance Co. has dropped its lawsuit against DuPage County and several other county and municipal governments it claimed failed to take necessary steps to prevent and limit damage from the April 2013 floods.

The insurance company dropped the lawsuits in early June, DuPage County State's Attorney's office spokesman Paul Darrah said, less than two months after initially filing the claims in court.

Farmers had asserted in the suits that flood damage would not have been so great had the various defendants properly prepared for the event and done their "duty to exercise ordinary care to maintain (their) property in a reasonably safe condition," as stated in Illinois Statute.

Farmers said in the suit that the flooding, which caused Gov. Pat Quinn to declare 48 counties disaster areas, could have been mitigated by better management of retention and detention basins, proper operation of tributary open and enclosed sewers and drains, and the erection of proper barriers.

The lawsuit alleged the counties and municipalities were aware of this, based on prior flooding and studies.

Similar suits were filed in Cook, DeKalb, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and LaSalle counties on the same day, according to documents provided by Farmers officials.

Farmers Insurance Media Relations Director Luis Sahagun said the lawsuit had been dropped against all counties and municipalities it had initially been filed against.

"Farmers initiated this litigation in an effort to recover money on behalf of our policyholders for certain losses they sustained that could have been avoided by the cities and counties named in this lawsuit," Sahagun said in a statement. "We hoped that by filing this lawsuit we would encourage cities and counties to take preventative steps to reduce the risk of harm in the future. We had hoped to give a voice to customers.

"We believe our lawsuit brought important issues to the attention of the respective cities and counties, and that our policyholders’ interests will be protected by the local governments going forward. Therefore, we have withdrawn the suit and hope to continue the constructive conversations with the cities and counties in Chicagoland to build stronger, safer communities."

DuPage County municipalities named in the suit included Naperville, Elmhurst, Wheaton, Lombard, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Aurora, Westmont, Oak Brook, Lisle, Villa Park, Addison, Willowbrook, West Chicago, Winfield, Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, Itasca, Bartlett, Wood Dale, Warrenville, Glendale Heights, Darien, Bloomingdale, Woodridge, Roselle, Carol Stream, Bensenville and Hanover Park.

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