$2.2 Million Settlement in Property Owners’ Claims Against Storage Company
Dec. 5, 2016
St. Louis, MO
The claims of eight area property owners against a moving and storage company and a warehouse owner were settled recently in St. Louis County for over 2.2 million dollars. The settlement represents the value of WWII memorabilia, rare books and family heirlooms, along with common household goods, owned by eight area residents who placed their property in temporary storage with Dielman Moving and Storage in 2013. The case began in the summer of 2013 when a University City warehouse was destroyed by fire. The fire occurred when roofers, using torches, accidentally caught the building’s roof on fire while performing roof repairs. St. Louis resident Betsy Snyder, represented by The Bruning Law Firm and Anthony Bruning, sued Dielman Moving and Storage and the Byron Company for the value of her property stored in the warehouse.
Snyder sued Dielman because, according to her moving and storage contracts, Dielman promised to store her personal property in Dielman’s dry climate controlled storage facility in St. John, MO. However, unbeknownst to Snyder and without her consent, Dielman actually moved her property into a previously abandoned University City warehouse recently leased by Dielman because the St. John, MO facility was full. At least seven other area families who had contracts with Dielman to move and store their property at Dielman’s facility also had property in the U. City warehouse at the time of the fire. Like Snyder, none of these property owners gave Dielman permission to move their property into the U. City warehouse. All eight families eventually brought claims against Dielman and the warehouse owner, Byronco.
Snyder, daughter of former MO Appellate Court Justice Robert Snyder, lost her father’s WWII uniform along with household furnishings in the fire. The other claimants also lost items of sentimental value, artwork, and antiques. One of the claimants is Michael Honeycutt who is the Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill, SC. Honeycutt was a professor at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis when he accepted the position at Westminster Presbyterian in 2013. During his family’s move to South Carolina Honeycutt stored the contents of his office with Dielman including his personal collection of more than 800 religious books collected in the US, Scotland and Wales during his studies there. Many of the books in his collection were first-edition books from the 1800s found by Honeycutt during a four year search. As a theologian, Honeycutt wrote notes, illustrations and life applications in the margins of his books which he used in lectures and sermons. All of those books were lost in the fire.
The bulk of the settlement was paid on behalf of Dielman for misrepresenting to its customers the location of where their property would be stored. The claim against the warehouse owner was for the negligent hiring of the roofing contractor who caused the fire. Dielman Moving and Storage is not related to the prominent Dielmann family of St. Louis. Andy Dielmann of Dielman Reality was actually one of the claimants who owned personal property which was destroyed in the fire.