Thursday, December 7, 2023
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In Orne, a family has its insurance bent in court

The case was heard before the Caen Court of Appeal. ©Isabelle Innocenti

The first civil chamber in Caen Court of Appeal rejected Le Mans Insurance Mutuals (MMA)which for eight years has refused to compensate a family of Vidai, victim of a 2014 arson at their home.

As a reminder, Sébastien X. had in this case sold in July 2014 for 160,000 euros this house insured with MMA at Agricultural Land Group (GFA) in Oaks, where his father Michel and his younger brother Mickaël are associated. But more than three months later31 October 2014had she then been completely destroyed by fire.

The firemen had intervened after a call from the previous owner, but too late: he and his younger brother were “angry” and he had therefore “not seen the need to call the emergency services before”, he had been reported at the time in press.

A family dispute

A few months earlier, 19 May 2014Sébastien X. had effectively resigned from Groupement foncier agricole “in a context of deep disagreement between partners”, recalls the minutes of the extraordinary general meeting confirming his departure.

that November 26, 2014that GFA des Chênes had nevertheless maintained his desire to buy the burnt house: the sale agreement stipulated that “if a disaster befell the property during the term of the contract, the buyer would have the opportunity (…) to be awarded the damages likely to be paid by (…) the insurance company (…), even if they exceed the agreed price”. And that is exactly what happened: the experts had evaluated damage of 207,000 euros.

But MMA had then refused to pay the money: the fire was “of criminal origin” and its author “necessarily the subscriber of the insurance policy, that is, the recipient of the insurance compensation”, hammered the insurance company.

After the dismissal of their complaint for “arson”, she had formed a civil party before an investigating judge for “fraud” by attacking the head of Farmland Group of Oaks and his son, who had sold him the house.

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“The elements of the judicial information did not make it possible to identify the author or authors of these facts”, however, the judge had concluded in his dismissal order. “All these elements, despite the various investigative actions carried out, in no way allow the perpetrator to be identified, nor to demonstrate the active involvement of one or the other. »

A voluntary act

At the same time, a legal expert was commissioned: the expert had also concluded that “only a voluntary act must be retained”.

Indeed, “tracks” had been observed on the window of the rear facade and “indicate a break-in”, he noted. “The markings made by the dog team indicate the presence of hydrocarbons” and “two firing points were noted”, he further indicated in his report.

“On the other hand, it does not conclude that the perpetrator of the facts can only be the subscriber of the insurance policy or the manager of the GFA des Chênes”, notes the First Civil Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Caen. in a judgment of 20 September 2022, which has just been published. ” [Le père et son fils] have always disputed the facts and no testimony or material evidence can prove their involvement. »

“The existence of a family conflict between Sébastien X. and (…) the head of the GFA or even the proximity of Sébastien X.’s home to the scene of the fire are only minimal traces, but not proof that the one or the other is the originator of the fire”, underlines the judges.

“If it can be concluded that the fire was deliberate (…), neither the criminal investigation (…) nor the investigation by the investigating judge after several hearings and investigations, nor the legal expertise makes it possible to determine the originator or authors of this fire ,” sum up the Caen judges.

Under these conditions, MMA must compensate for GFA des Chênesbut only from €144,297 immediately as insurance compensation. For €62,000 leftwithin the next two years, the company must prove with invoices and documents that it has started the reconstruction of the house.

Until then, in the meantime, the MMA is entitled to demand the repayment of this second sum which had been awarded by the tribunal de grande instance of Alençon (Orne) d. 16 August 2019.

The insurance company does not have to pay either €10,000 compensation demanded by the Groupement foncier agricole for its “abuse resistance”.

CB / PressPepper for Perch

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