This is a disgusting display of greed on the part of the insurance company to not pay a claim on their insured by claiming she was deceased prior to her vehicle causing the damage. Shame, shame, SHAME on them.
Insurance company refusing to pay for damage to former Pontillo's in Le Roy
Submitted by Howard Owens on April 18, 2013 - 9:47am
The best estimate John Pontillo has received so far for repair of the former Pontillo's Pizza location in Le Roy is $33,000.
The building was damaged Aug. 6 when it was struck by a car owned by Marie Costa.
Costa's insurance company is apparently denying a claim for damage to the building under something known as the "emergency doctrine."
In New York and other states, a person is not liable for injury or damage in an accident if a person is "faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance, not of their own making, that leaves them with little or no time for reflection."
What exactly happened that caused Costa's vehicle to careen over a curb and ram into the Pontillo's building seems to still be a matter of medical dispute, but from John Pontillo's interpretation of what he's been told by Costa's insurance company, she died prior to the accident so the company isn't responsible for any claims.
Costa was insuranced by Adirondack Insurance.
The way Pontillo sees it, Costa was driving the vehicle before any sort of medical condition arose -- if one did -- and therefore Adirondack should pay up.
"Like others have said, she is the one who put the car in motion and there was damage done before the car finally came to a rest," Pontillo said.
When Costa's car hit the building, it dislodged a large limestone brick from the archway by the front door. The repair will require extensive safety measures to keep other stones from cracking or falling.
Meanwhile, Pontillo has foreclosed on the property, claiming substantial debts to himself from the Elizabeth Pontillo estate. The property will go up for auction, but Pontillo fears with the damage it won't even sell.
The more the building sells for, the more of the estate's debts (which Pontillo said are substantial to himself and others) can be paid.
If the building doesn't sell, John Pontillo is stuck with a heavily damaged building that he can't use without repairs.
He's thought in the past of opening another pizzeria at the location, but with the damaged building, that isn't possible.
The condition of the building is also a major concern to the village, according to Mayor Greg Rogers.
Pontillo said Adirondack has refused to pay Le Roy for damage to a planter and signs. Rogers said he isn't even thinking about that claim.
"I would much rather worry about getting that building back in shape," Rogers said.
The village is working with its insurance company, Tompkins, to try and resolve the dispute.
One option for Pontillo would be to sue the estate of Costa. He doesn't really want to do that to her family, but such a suit might force Costa's family to sue Adirondack. He's hoping the family will put pressure on Adirondack to settle with Pontillo. He suspects -- though can't prove -- that Adirondack paid the family for a claim on Costa's car.
We requested a statement from Adirondack on the case but have yet to hear back from the company.