Elderly B.C. man wins $425k battle with insurance corporation

George Apostolidis, who is described in court documents as an illiterate widower, was in need of funds.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge sided with an elderly West Kelowna man whose insurer tried to deny him a $425,000 claim after his house burned down.

George Apostolidis, who is described in court documents as an illiterate widower, owned a home on Alexander Place. On Sept. 22, 2015 he and his new partner had gone to Penticton for the night and the house caught fire.

The home-destroying blaze was deemed an arson when an accelerant was found and Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company, denied coverage of $425,000.

In their estimation, it was “more than likely” the 76-year-old intentionally caused the fire himself or hired someone else to do so.

READ MORE: ARSON SUSPECTED

In a written decision, however, Justice Ian Crawford Meiklem combed through the argument of the insurance company and found it to be lacking.

To start, when investigators went to the house they saw signs of mischief.

Graffiti reading “satan is king,” “burn in hell,” “die” and “666” on the concrete patio adjacent to the swimming pool, as well as “666” on the retaining wall adjacent to the driveway.

There were no signs of forced entry to any of the doors, but a padlocked gate at the back of the house had been broken open. Red paint smears were found on the locking lever of a sliding glass door on the lower level near the pool area and on the adjacent light switch cover.

“The plaintiff’s overnight stay in Penticton means that it is virtually a certainty that the plaintiff did not commit the arson himself,” writes Justice Meiklem.

“It could be said that hypothetically the opportunity to hire a third party arsonist is available to any insured with unsavoury connections … In this case, there was no evidence connecting the plaintiff to anyone who might be the arsonist, despite investigations having been conducted by both the RCMP and the defendant.”

The insurance company also argued that the elderly man had an “obvious financial motive to have his house destroyed by fire.”

With the death of his wife in March 2014, he lost the person who was looking after his finances and quickly discovered that he was left with only regular income from pensions totalling approximately $1,000 per month and his savings.

His savings as of September 2014 were approximately $64,000 USD, and had been reduced by September 2015 to approximately $30,000 USD. His monthly mortgage and loan payments were $4,500.

Apostolidis’s taxable income in 2014 was $11,233.

“The plaintiff denied that he was selling his house for financial reasons, but because at 7,000 square-feet it was far too large for himself as a widower,” said Meiklem.

Apostolidis also planned to relocate to Hawaii, where he had previously lived and owned restaurants. This plan had been in place even before the death of his wife.

Apostolidis had also argued that he had equity in his home of approximately $200,000, he was up-to-date on all his financial obligations and had enough money to continue to service his mortgages and other expenses.

Altogether the savings would only allow him to service his debts for another six months, unless he obtained a new source of income or sold his house.

“If neither of those events occurred, he would be in a desperate financial situation at the end of six months,” said Meiklem.

“Obviously selling the house would probably have been more financially beneficial than any insurance settlement following either a total loss of the house or a partial loss. One might think that having obtained an accepted offer after two price drops over several months of market exposure, Mr. Apostolidis would be optimistic that he had found the market, rather than pessimistic enough to commit arson. If his motivation was to simply free himself from the mortgage payments, he of course had the obvious option of lowering the list price further. In his circumstances, he would have been the quintessential motivated seller.”

Meiklem ordered the insurance company to award Apostolidis his claim along with costs.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaNewsKat
kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Campbell River school trustees want review of school closure effects

Board only wants information and is not reconsidering closure decisions

Seasonal favourite comes to the Sid Williams Theatre

Many of us can remember a favourite Christmas gift - what is… Continue reading

Blue Christmas service in Comox Dec. 15

While jingling bells and festive holiday lights bring great joy to many… Continue reading

Unity Comox Valley hosts serenity service in Comox Thursday

Do you have mixed feelings about the holidays? Unity offers a special… Continue reading

UPDATE: RCMP involved in crash south of Courtenay Saturday night

An RCMP member was involved in a three-vehicle collision on Highway 19… Continue reading

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

Valley foodbank fundraiser surpasses goal

Earlier this year, Star Nap and her children stopped by the Comox… Continue reading

Break-in at home of detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on America’s request

Natural gas rates will go up in B.C. on Jan. 1

Regions could pay up to $68 more

Top House Dems raise prospect of impeachment, jail for Trump

It could be an “impeachable offense” if it’s proven that President Donald Trump directed illegal hush-money payments to women during the 2016 campaign.

Macron addresses France amid protests; is it too late?

Paris monuments reopened, cleanup workers cleared debris and shop owners tried to put the city on its feet again Sunday.

CUPE calls off Flair Airlines job action citing job security concerns

The union says it’s going to challenge Flair’s move at the Canada Industrial Relations Board before proceeding with any job action.

Trump looking at several candidates for new chief of staff

Trump’s top pick for the job, Nick Ayers, is out of the running and Trump is now soliciting input on at least four individuals.

Canadian physicist collects Nobel Prize

Canada’s Donna Strickland is one of three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.

Most Read