Lower French Quarter restaurant seeks full payment on fire claim

Andrea Dearden Nov. 1, 2010, 2:39am

The owner of a cafe in the Lower French Quarter is suing its landlord and insurers for unpaid damages caused by a fire.

Gazebo Cafe LLC filed the lawsuit against USF Insurance Co., the French Market Corp. and its insurance providers, Companion Property & Casualty Insurance Co. and Admiral Insurance Co. on Oct. 21 in Orleans Parish.

Gazebo Cafe was leasing space from the French Market in October 2009 when a fire damaged the building and forced the cafe to close during clean up. Gazebo Cafe says the New Orleans Fire Department found the cause of the fire to be one of the water heaters in the restaurant's attic. The business claims those water heaters were installed by French Market before Gazebo Cafe agreed to lease the property.

During the two week clean up Gazebo Cafe says it paid for repairs to the building and the replacement of two commercial-size water heaters. The restaurant believed the damages were covered under its policy with USF Insurance, so it filed a claim.

USF allegedly agreed to pay for damages, but Gazebo Cafe received only a partial payment. Gazebo Cafe says USF denied payment for the remaining costs, saying the water heaters were considered part of the building.

Gazebo Cafe says it then asked for payment from French Market's insurers, Companion and Admiral, only to be denied. Gazebo Cafe contends it asked French Market in May for reimbursement for the water heaters and a decrease in rent because the restaurant was closed for repairs. Gazebo Cafe says French Market declined.

The cafe is suing USF, Admiral and Companion for breach of contract and is suing the French Market for liability and negligence.
They are asking for an unspecified amount of money for damages and court costs.

Gazebo Cafe is represented by attorneys Martha Y. Curtis and Paul R. Trapani of New Orleans.

Orleans Parish District Court Case No. 10-10779

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