Ron Ryan and his AgriBoard Industries have prevailed in a federal lawsuit against his insurance company, Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance , over a 2009 fire at his Electra, Texas, plant.
"We felt like the insurance company owed us more money than what they felt like," Ryan says. "They had to have a jury tell them that they agreed with me — not them."
An ILM representative declined comment.
The company had already paid for some damages, but now a jury has ruled ILM has to pay an additional $2.26 million.
"Initially, they didn't pay for almost anything," Ryan says. "They wanted things like proof of ownership and all kinds of stuff, most of which was destroyed in the fire."
Ryan says fire-proof safes weren't enough to combat the intense heat — he was told it was as much as 3,000 degrees — from what started as a wildfire.
"Every square inch of our floor literally exploded," he says.
Ryan says due to Texas law, ILM had to pay for his building and mill, but he says the company balked at paying for other things.
"They said, 'Well, your company really hasn't made much money.'
"Prior to the fire, we'd already planned for a second mill," Ryan says. "The company was really doing some good things, and we had to prove that in court."
He credits his lawyer, Randy Rathbun of Depew Gillen Rathbun & McInteer .
"Randy did a great job."
Rathbun says, "Ron felt a strong sense of vindication after the verdict as the real issue in the case was lost profits, which translated into a fight over the viability of AgriBoard in general."
AgriBoard Industries is still in business, though that's not been Ryan's focus lately.
"I've concentrated 150 percent of my efforts just trying to get the insurance company ... to pay the policy."
Ryan is close to a deal for a new plant, which won't be in Kansas.
However, Ryan will be. He and his wife are moving back here from Florida.
"We just can't stay away from Wichita."
You don't say
"Husbands choosing colors must have a note from their wives!"
—A sign at ProSource , a wholesale floor coverings store in west Wichita