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Objections Heard in Suit Over Collapsed Amphitheater Roof

July 15, 2008

By Gretchen M. Wintermantel, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

Jul. 15–Attorneys for Lackawanna County and a local insurance company went back to court Monday over insurance coverage of the amphitheater roof of the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain.

The Housing and Redevelopment Insurance Exchange and Foxco Insurance Management Services Inc. are embroiled in a dispute with the county over coverage of the pavilion roof, which collapsed under the weight of heavy snow in February 2007. Foxco manages HARIE’s administrative operations.

Judge Carmen Minora heard preliminary objections in two lawsuits pertaining to the amphitheater roof’s coverage.

Attorney Frank Ruggiero’s main objection on behalf of HARIE is that the county failed to include former county insurance broker Joe Durkin, of J. Durkin Insurance Consultants, in the lawsuit.

The county “sued the people responsible for the loss,” said county attorney Larry Moran.

The county filed a lawsuit against HARIE, Foxco and Mr. Verrastro for breach of contract, insurance bad faith, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence on the part of the defendants.

HARIE filed a motion for declaratory judgment asking the court to rule whether there was coverage when the roof caved in.

That lawsuit was filed against the county, Commissioners Mike Washo, Corey O’Brien and A.J. Munchak, and former Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro, as well as Mr. Durkin.

Mr. Durkin has said Mr. Verrastro canceled the policy when Montage was sold in December 2006. Chuck Volpe Jr., president of Foxco, said Mr. Verrastro has said he was instructed to do so by Mr. Durkin.

The county’s lawsuit claims neither Mr. Verrastro nor Mr. Durkin were authorized to cancel the policy.

Mr. Ruggiero filed objections to several allegations made by the county, including breach of contract, insurance bad faith, unfair trade under the Consumer Protection Law and negligence.

HARIE contends the insurance coverage was canceled in December 2006, when Sno Mountain purchased Montage Ski Resort.

The county contends it still had coverage when the roof caved in.

Contact the writer: gwintermantel@timesshamrock.com

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