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Simon sues insurance companies over fatal escalator accident

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Simon Property Group Inc. has filed suit against two insurance companies in an attempt to recoup damages relating to an escalator accident at Circle Centre mall in 2009 that led to the death of a Texas FFA delegate.

Simon, along with its Circle Centre Mall LLC entity, is suing Schaumburg, Ill.-based Zurich American Insurance Co. and Greensburg, Pa.-based Old Republic Insurance Co. in Marion Superior Court for unspecified damages.

The two firms insured escalator servicer Schindler Elevator Corp. at the time of the fall in October 2009. Police reports at the time said Philip Caler, a Texas FFA delegate in Indianapolis for the agricultural organization’s national convention, suffered critical injuries when he fell about 40 feet from an escalator near the third floor of the mall.

Caler, 20, died in September 2013 from his injuries, which included damage to his spine and brain.

In 2011, Caler’s parents filed suit against Simon, the mall, and the escalator company, among others, seeking damages due to their negligence, according to Simon’s complaint against the insurance companies.

Simon and Circle Centre settled the suit in July 2013 with help from their insurance company, XL Insurance America Inc. But Simon and Circle Centre claim in their complaint against Zurich and Old Republic that the two insurance companies failed to follow through on promises that they also would provide coverage to help with losses.

“As a result, Circle Center and Simon have been forced to institute this action to recover what should have been routine payments under the applicable policies,” their lawyer, Gregory A. Neibarger of Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP, wrote in the complaint.

Reached by phone, Neibarger declined to comment further. Representatives of Zurich and Old Republic did not immediately respond to requests for comment from IBJ on Friday.

Simon and Circle Centre are suing for breach of contract and bad faith.

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  • Huh
    This is weird that there was a lawsuit to begin with. Does every accident have to end in a lawsuit. The only negligance I could see if if the escalator wasn't properly maintained and it was uncovered during this investigation. Or if Simon was to install some "barrier walls" to make the escalator slightly enclosed with plexiglass. Thats the only thing that could have prevented this. However, I don't see that as negligance when those escalators have been like that for years. I'm sorry to say this, but was the child goofing off on the escalator like he shouldn't have been?
  • really?
    How was this ever a claim? This was a tragedy...but I don't get why the property owner would be at fault? Did the imaginary 24/7 limitless blanket of apparent responsibility take a tinkie break?

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