COLORADO SPRINGS – Southern Colorado is not immune to destructive windstorms. The recent date shows that we get them about every two years in Colorado, but who is ultimately responsible if someone else’s property causes damage to yours?
That’s a question a Colorado Springs family asked News 5 Investigates after a car corral in a King Soopers parking lot blew up in their car while they were shopping.
Through his insurance company, King Soopers says they are not responsible, but a local lawyer says that is not always true.
On the morning of December 15, 2021, a major windstorm moved through Colorado Springs. Our meteorologists recorded wind gusts of 92 mph at the Colorado Springs airport that day.
Lette de Mer says her family’s Subaru was parked at the grocery store on Centennial and Filmore when a cart corral blew into their car.
“The staff was there trying to move this thing out of our car and put it aside,” Lette said. “One of the staff members took a picture.”
She says King Soopers employees took photos of the damage to the back of the car. News 5 took our own video when we met Lette in person to discuss her case and view the damage.
“The tailgate was damaged,” she said. “It was hit quite hard and pieces of the tailgate were broken off.”
Lette says that at first, King Soopers seemed willing to fix the damage to the car.
“The manager said he would check with insurance and call me back and we were never called back,” she said. “They didn’t return any of our calls and then we contacted you.”
Sedgwick, the company that handles claims on behalf of King Soopers (Kroger) sent Lette and her husband a denial letter.
“I would like to apologize for the unfortunate incident you experienced while shopping at 3250 Centennial Blvd,” the letter read. “After careful consideration of the facts of your incident, our investigation has revealed no negligence on the part of King Soopers and we must therefore dismiss your claim.”
The letter then told Lette that they hoped she would remain one of his “valued customers”.
We presented what happened to attorney Stephen Longo. He is not associated with any of the parties in this case, but News 5 has sought a legal opinion on who might be responsible when cases like this occur.
“Whenever we go shopping at a store that is open and inviting us, they are designated under Colorado law under the ‘Premise of Liability Act’ as a guest and by that standard that means that the company must protect us from known hazards or hazards they should know about upon reasonable inspection,” Longo said.
Since this December windstorm was predicted days in advance by local Colorado meteorologists, Longo said that fact could help the family if they appeal.
“If we’re talking about a cart corral that gets knocked over in a windstorm because it’s not bolted down properly, then they can still be found careless.”
Longo says one thing to consider in a case like this is whether employees should or could have known of this potential hazard through routine maintenance scans/inspections and/or review of policies and practices. of security.
For more than a month, News 5 Investigates has made several attempts to discuss this matter with King Soopers.
King Soopers public affairs manager Rhonda Remy initially said spokeswoman Jessica Trowbridge was reviewing our investigation and would remind us —- this phone conversation took place on March 18.
Since then, several phone calls to Remy and Trowbridge have gone unanswered, as well as several emails.
News 5 also made several unsuccessful phone and email attempts to reach Kristal Howard, director of media relations and corporate communications for The Kroger Company.
We also asked Howard via email if she could tell us about company policy to ensure equipment is properly secured before a windstorm or major weather event.
Howard did not respond.
“I’ve been shopping there for 40 years and now they don’t want to take responsibility that their cart corral hit our car and damaged it,” Lette said. “If it had affected one person, it would have been tragic. Luckily, no one was.”
We also contacted Sedgwick directly to see if they could review the denial and offer the client information on an appeal.
Lette says to date she hasn’t received anything from Sedgwick.
At first, Judy Molnar, vice president of public relations for Sedgwick, asked KOAA 5 for information about the client. We immediately supplied it to Sedgwick.
Molner then responded by asking KOAA to follow up with King Soopers.
Further correspondence requesting information via email, telephone and SMS went unanswered from Molnar.
Tips from Stephen Longo:
Longo says insurance companies are in the business of taking premiums and not paying claims. He said it’s not necessarily uncommon for an insurance company or business to immediately deny a claim.
If that happens, he says you should consider appealing.
Some agencies, like hospitals, are transparent about how to file an appeal. Sedgwick provided no such information in its denial to the client regarding the appeal process.
Longo says you should also ask the insurance company the following questions:
- What facts did you consider before reaching your conclusion or decision?
- What information or exemption in the insurance policy do you cite regarding my refusal?
- What security protocols and procedures were in place at the time of this incident?
- What media (photos, video, statements) did you use to reach your conclusion?
If you’re still not moving forward, seeking mediation services might be the next step to consider before filing a civil lawsuit and letting the courts decide who is at fault.”
This is a developing story and we will update it as new information becomes available.
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