Cement Truck Hits House


by Britni McDonald

RACINE CO. -- Sheila Counard was sitting on her couch in her living room when the cement truck came crashing through her wall last August. Months later, not much remains on a house that should have been torn down months ago. Now she's caught up in a lot of red tape.

"Not a day goes by where I'm not looking at papers or calling somebody or writing a letter or something. And it's like oh my god, you're my insurance company. Don't you want to do what's best?" Sheila Counard said.

Eight months later, Sheila still does not have a home. In three months, the place she's now renting will no longer be covered by her insurance. She says she will have nowhere to go.

"In the policy, they only pay for 12 months," Counard said.

The coverage under Sheila's insurance company, American Family, was better than the cement truck's, so she decided to work with them. American Family declared her home a total loss and wrote her and her live-in boyfriend, Walter, a check two months later for more than $100,000. But it's a check she couldn't use, written out to Bank of America, a mortgage holder she said she never had on the home.

Two more checks were then issued by American Family, still in the wrong name.

"I said here's the new mortgage holder, and they still haven't made it out to the proper people," Sheila said.

For months, Sheila's been trying to get this resolved with American Family. She even recorded home video of a visit by an adjuster and an attorney from American Family.

CBS 58 News traveled to American Family's headquarters in Madison seeking answers. They declined an on camera interview but say the mortgage holders they listed on the checks were taken from the title report on her home.

But Bank of America, who they wrote the initial check out to, was never on that report. They went on to say that they need official documentation if the mortgage holder changes. But their homeowner's policy with Sheila lists Statebridge Company as the mortgage holder, effective October 27. Two checks were issued by American Family with later dates, one on October 28, the next on November 2, with several mortgage holders listed-- First Banking Center, Bank One, and Nation Star-- None of them list Statebridge.

In video of a home visit, an attorney with American Family suggested that Sheila contact her attorney.

Sheila's contacted an attorney. He tells CBS 58 News he can't believe it's gone this far.

"American Family's obligation under Wisconsin law is to pay the people on the policy. That's Sheila, Walter, and Statebridge. They clearly are simply totally unwilling to concede that they made a mistake and because of that my people don't have a home. My people won't have a home for months," Michael Riley said.

But CBS 58 News has learned that Statebridge is in fact not a mortgage holder but rather a mortgage servicing company. American Family agrees and says that's part of the problem here.

There's still confusion over which mortgage holder should be on the check.

In addition to damage to the living room, there are cracks in the wall and basement rocks scattered across the floor. Every floor of the house was affected.

"If that man (truck driver) would have been paying attention, this would have never happened," Sheila said.

American Family says Sheila's not been totally cooperative through this process, so they have taken it to court where they say the mortgage companies, Sheila, and American Family will be brought together to resolve this issue.

"It's ridiculous that they're taking me to court because they say I'm not cooperating. There isn't a thing we haven't done," Counard said.

If anything happens to you, it's important to know who your mortgage holder is and who's listed on your title insurance.

CBS 58 News will continue to follow this case and let you know the outcome.


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