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Arbitration panels rule in 5 cases in Schuylkill

Published October 30. 2009 05:00PM

Five boards of arbitration held hearings Wednesday in Schuylkill County courthouse on civil cases, handed down awards in four cases and ruled in favor of the defendant in one case.

Three attorneys are appointed by a judge to serve on an arbitration board. They hear cases in which damages sought do not exceed $50,000.

The one case in which a board ruled was for the party being sued. It was the case of Brian Kolbush, 18 S. Logan St., McAdoo, versus Mark Scheitrum, 507 Laurel Lane, Tamaqua R.D. The suit was about Kolbush allowing Scheitrum to borrow his truck and when he returned it, Kolbush claimed, he found mechanical problems dealing with the transmission and sued Scheitrum to recover the cost of repairs. He was seeking $2,141.50. An arbitration board ruled in favor of Scheitrum.

In a suit brought by James Bell, 860 West Penn Pike, Tamaqua R.D., versus Allstate Insurance Company, an arbitration board ruled in favor of Bell and awarded him $11,337.37 in damages.

The suit was over a contract breach. Bell purchased a property in April 2006 and took out homeowners insurance from Allstate to insure against losses to real estate and personal property. On April 24, 2007, the home was damaged by a windstorm. The insurance firm made a settlement offer not satisfactory to the homeowner. The insurance company claimed the shingles on the home were old, dried and deteriorated and claimed the damage caused was due to the age of the roof and not the storm. The board ruled for Bell.

A Tamaqua woman was found liable for damages caused in an accident suit.

The suit was brought by Richard and Margaret Gavanis, of Archbald, Lackawanna County, and Greg and Laura Muha individually and on behalf of Ethan Muha, all of Dickson City, Lackawanna County, against James Strockoz, 435 State Road, Barnesville, and Michelle Fox, 236 Orwigsburg St., Tamaqua.

The suit arose from an accident which happened on April 6, 2005, on SR309 near Tamaqua. Strockoz was driving a vehicle and pulling behind him farm equipment which broke away from the hitch and veered into the opposite lane. Richard Gavenas was traveling in the opposite direction and when he rounded a curve and saw the farm implement slammed on the brakes, but was unable to stop and struck the farm equipment.

Michelle Fox was traveling in the same direction as Gavenas and as she rounded the curve saw the car in front of her, couldn't stop and struck the rear end causing injuries to the parties in the car in front of her vehicle.

The board's ruling found Strockoz not liable for any damages but ruled Fox was liable for $10,000 to the Gavenas'; $15,000 to the Muhas; and $4,000 to Ethan Muha.

Nuremberg Auto Service Inc. brought suit against Kori L. Barkus. The case arose from a residential lease agreement between the parties.

Barkus rented the property at 774 Main Street, Nuremberg, owned by the auto service. Her monthly rent was $491 with the Schuylkill County Housing Authority paying $303 toward the rent. It was later increased to $570.

Barkus rented the home for 22 months but failed to pay rent for the period of December 2007 and January and February 2008 and the owner claimed she was evicted. She claimed they found interior damages and sued for $4,381.86. Barkus claimed the reason she stopped paying rent was because there was no hot water and the furnace broke down and she and her children had to go elsewhere to take showers and baths. She claimed she moved out after the landlord refused to fix the furnace. The board ruled she owned $1,346.70.

Kevin G. Svenson and Jill Oakley Svenson, Auburn, brought suit against State Farm Fire and Casualty Insurance Company for breach of contract.

The Svensons constructed a home at 2115 Running Deer Road, Auburn, in 1995 and on June 16, 1998, lightning struck a large tree which fell on the house causing damages. The insurance company hired an independent insurance adjuster who specializes in property damages and he determined certain damage claims were not caused by the tree falling, such as cracks in the foundation he claimed was caused by settlement and sagging cathedral ceilings were not storm related.

The Svensons were seeking $38,890.57 and the insurance company offered $3,976.59. The board awarded the Svensons $10,000.

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