Owners, Insurer Settle High-Dollar Suit in Ohio Mansion Fire

September 25, 2017

A dispute over a multi-million dollar insurance claim for a suburban Cincinnati mansion that burned down in 2014 has been settled weeks before a scheduled trial.

Jeffrey and Maria Decker sued Chubb National Insurance Company after it declined to pay their $14 million claim for a January 2014 fire at their mansion in Indian Hill, which had nearly 15,000 square feet of living space. The Deckers say they cooperated with the investigation.

Chubb countersued and accused them of intentionally misrepresenting information during the investigation. It sought repayment of $700,000 the Deckers received before their claim was denied.

The insurance company and investigators questioned where Jeffrey Decker was when the fire broke out. Chubb has claimed investigators have told the company that cellphone tower records showed he was near his 5-acre property at the time. Decker said he was seven miles away at a construction site in suburban Cincinnati.

Jeffrey Decker’s former business partner testified in a deposition that Decker told him the night of the fire that his wife “would have killed me” if the family’s two dogs, who were outside during the fire, had been killed. Decker has said he stopped at home earlier in the day to let the dogs out.

The business partner committed suicide last year, his body found on the Deckers’ property.

Chubb also has claimed that the Deckers were planning to sell their house because they would soon not be able to afford it based on their lifestyles. The Deckers have said they had no plans to sell. A real estate agent testified in a deposition that Maria Decker called her three weeks before the fire about showing the house.

Settlement talks for both lawsuits broke down last month. The company insured the home built in 2006 for $5 million. The Deckers claimed it would cost $10.7 million to rebuild and were seeking $60 million in their lawsuit.

The cause of the fire investigated by the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has yet to be determined.

A federal court filing says attorneys for Jeffrey and Maria Decker and their insurer informed the judge the matter was settled, but the document doesn’t offer details. The settlement hasn’t been finalized.

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