Illinois Farmers Insurance sues 12 local governments for allegedly ignoring climate change

By Kyla Asbury | May 21, 2014

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Farmer Insurance Company is suing 12 cities, villages and counties it claims ignored climate changes and failed to prevent flooding.

Illinois Farmers Insurance Company and Farmers Insurance Exchange, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, claim the local governments failed to prevent flooding that was related to climate change that occurred in April 2013.

Farmers claimed that the County of McHenry, City of Crystal Lake, City of Woodstock, Village of Algonquin, Village of Island Lake, Village of Lake in the Hills, City of McHenry, Village of Fox River Grove, City of Marengo, Village of Huntley, City of Harvard and Village of Cary are responsible for the damaged caused by a two-day downpour and were aware that the climate change was causing heavier rainfalls.

The defendants failed to prevent sewage backups in more than 600 homes by draining water from the region's system of tunnels and retention basins before the storm, according to the complaint originally filed April 17 in McHenry Circuit Court and removed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois-Eastern Division on May 6.

Farmers claims the defendants failed to provide safe, adequate stormwater control storage for stormwater to prevent stormwater invasions onto class members' properties.

"During the past 40 years, climate change... has caused rains to be of greater volume, greater intensity and greater duration than pre-1970 rainfall history evidenced, rendering the rainfall frequency return tables employed by the Reclamation District and each named municipal defendant inaccurate and obsolete," the complaint states.

The defendants knew or should have known that climate change has resulted in greater rain fall volume, greater rainfall intensity and greater rainfall duration that pre-1970 rain fall history, resulting in greater stormwater runoff from a rainfall, according to the suit.

Farmers claims the defendants knew or should have known that the occurrence rainfall was approaching McHenry County watersheds days before it occurred on April 17-18, 2013.

"Despite these destructive sewer water invasions, plaintiffs have not received just compensation for this substantial interference of their real properties and personal properties," the complaint states.

Farmers claims it paid money to its insured and is asking to be reimbursed for the claims it paid to homeowners who sometimes saw geysers of sewage ruin basement walls, floors and furniture.

Farmers claims it also paid policyholders for lost income, the cost of evacuations and other damages related to declining property values.

Farmers is seeking compensatory damages and class certification. It is being represented by Stuart M. Brody, William J. Sneckenberg and Steven M. Thompson of Sneckenberg, Thompson, Brody.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Gary Feinerman.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois-Eastern Division case numbers: 1:14-cv-03282

From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at

More News

The Record Network