Couchcraft continues quest for compensation from 2004 Atmos pipeline explosion

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 13, 2013 

Nine years after a natural gas leak caused a Coachcraft building to explode, employees are appealing a 2008 court decision for losses which the recreational vehicle company says its insurer, Georgia Casualty, failed to deliver, according to a news release from Georgia Supreme Court.

A natural gas pipeline owned by Atmos Energy Corporation fractured Feb. 14, 2004, beneath a building owned by Coachcraft. The building filled with gas an eventual explosion occurred. The explosion damaged not only the building, but RVs owned by employees and customers and personal property belonging to employees.

In addition to paying towards customers who experienced loss during the explosion, Coachcraft's policy with Georgia Casualty paid a maximum of $368,000.

Because Coachcraft's policy held Atmos liable for premiums, Georgia Casualty filed a suit in 2005 for $1.6 million, saying Atmos had failed to maintain the pipeline. The gas company responded by filing a countersuit, saying that Coachcraft hadn't properly ventilated the building.

In 2008, Georgia Casualty agreed to settle its claim for $950,000, which led Atmos to drop its claim against Coachcraft and Georgia Casualty. However, Coachcraft objected to the dismissal, arguing that losses sustained by the company had not been fully restored by either Atmos or Georgia Casualty.

Coachcraft filed another suit in 2008 against Georgia Casualty for those payments that the company believed the insurer had failed to make. However, Muscogee County Superior Court ruled that since the company had paid out the maximum for Coachcraft's policy it was not responsible for paying for any other damages.

A hearing for the Coachcraft case will be held Feb. 18 at 10 a.m.

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