State Farm sues plumbing contractor to recover claim payment over ruptured water heater

Dan Harkins May 10, 2015, 12:47pm

An Illinois insurance company has sued to recover the claim it paid when a water heater expansion allegedly failed, flooding three Chicago condominiums.

State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., as subrogee of Rodica Capota of Chicago, filed a lawsuit May 1 in Cook County Circuit Court against State Industries Inc., a division of A.O. Smith Corp., and Waterford Plumbing Co. Inc., citing strict liability and negligence.

According to the complaint, Capota is suing the companies that manufactured (A.O. Smith) and installed (Waterford Plumbing) a water heater expansion. The suit says on Sept. 7, 2012, the expansion tank had a defective lining "which allowed water to contact the steel tank directly, causing corrosion and rust which eventually breached the outer wall of the tank." This leak flooded Capota's condominium in the 600 block of W. Briar Place, Chicago, and two other adjacent units, the suit says.

The complaint says "Waterford Plumbing Co. connected the ... expansion tank without allowing for adequate drainage accommodations, and also improperly connected it to the hot water piping and with the water port on the bottom, which increased the availability of oxygen to oxidize the steel of the tank shell, resulting in leakage and flooding."

State Farm paid Capota $74,827 for the damages to his property. The insurer also lost $1,000 for the insurance deductible.

State Farm seeks the amount it paid to Capota, plus costs. It is represented by attorney Gregory Oltman, of Oltman Law Group in Chicago.

Cook County Circuit Court Case No.: 15-L-4565.

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