SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – “I think the court got it right and this is a case that’s going to affect tens of thousands of people,” attorney Chris Roberts said.
Roberts is talking about the decision handed down by the Illinois Supreme Court Thursday in the case of Jarret Sproull vs. State Farm. Roberts’ firm represents Sproull.
“If people have a homeowner’s loss within the last year or they’re a business owner with a loss in the last two years, they may have a potential case to pursue and get additional money from the insurance company,” Roberts said.
The issue before the court is whether an insurer may depreciate labor costs the same way it depreciates the cost of the roof you’re replacing when determining the actual cash value of a covered loss.
“It’s not just State Farm,” Roberts said. “There’s a lot of other carriers out there that engage in the same practice.”
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled both the plaintiff and State Farm offered reasonable interpretations of “actual cash value” and “depreciation.” But because the court found State Farm’s policy ambiguous, it ruled the policyholder can recover depreciated labor cost.
“When both sides have a reasonable interpretation, the tie goes to the consumer,” Roberts said. “The tie goes to the person that holds the insurance policy and that’s what the Illinois Supreme Court said.”
In a statement, State Farms said:
“We are disappointed by the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling in the Sproull case, and its conclusion that certain language in our older insurance policies was ambiguous. Beginning in Feb. 2016, State Farm changed the policy language to provide a definition and outline the components of actual cash value to include materials, labor, and tax. The Sproull case concerns claims made only under the old policy language. We remain committed to paying our customers what we owe on their claims.”
“The next step, because we’re in a class action, is we have to certify the case as a class action,” Roberts said. “If the case eventually resolves, payments can be made from that case to the policyholders or business owners.”
FOX 2 will keep you posted as this case continues through the courts.