April 26--STAMFORD -- The contractor involved in the Christmas morning fire that killed three young sisters and their grandparents this past December misrepresented information about his company, his insurance company alleges in a lawsuit.
The Utica First Insurance Company claims it would not have issued insurance coverage to Michael Borcina and his company, Tiberias, if he had not made several misrepresentations about the type of work he did and the size of his business, according to the lawsuit. Utica First Insurance Company filed the lawsuit earlier this month in New York Supreme Court. This week, insurance company lawyers included Madonna and Matthew Badger and the estates of the five fire victims as defendants.
As a result, attorneys for the company claim Utica First Insurance is not obligated to provide coverage for Borcina or pay claims from the victims' relatives arising from the fatal fire on Dec. 25.
At the time of the fire, Borcina was overseeing renovations at Madonna Badger's 116-year-old house on Shippan Avenue. He was staying over at the house Christmas Eve when the fire ripped through the three-story home, killing Matthew and Madonna Badger's three daughters and her parents early Christmas morning. Borcina and Madonna Badger escaped the fire. The intense heat pushed Stamford firefighters from the house during several rescue attempts.
Police and fire officials described the blaze as accidental and said no criminal charges were anticipated. An initial investigation revealed Borcina cleaned out the fireplace shortly after 3 a.m. and placed the embers in a bag and left them inside a newly constructed mudroom or just outside in an enclosed trash bin.
"We are very disappointed that the insurance company has gone to court to try and get out of its legal obligations under its policies," said David Grudberg, an attorney with Carmody & Torrance in New Haven representing Borcina. "We have just recently received the lawsuit and will respond appropriately in court."
Matthew Badger's attorney, Richard Emery told the Associated Press on Thursday that he has to examine the insurance company's claim.
"But at first blush it certainly seems that the insurance company is trying to wiggle out of their responsibility to compensate Borcina's victims," Emery said.
Emery added that he was considering filed a lawsuit against Borcina "and a lot of other people that we believe are responsible for what occurred."
According to the insurance company's lawsuit, Borcina applied for commercial liability insurance as an artisan contractor in 2007 and completed several surveys about the nature of his work and business. The type of insurance Borcina received was meant for small businesses and placed restrictions on the size of projects and earnings, according to Utica First Insurance's website.
The insurance company accused Borcina of falsely reporting his payroll numbers, his gross annual receipts and whether it worked on projects exceeding $500,000.
The lawsuit comes as Stamford State's Attorney David Cohen, the head prosecutor at state Superior Court in Stamford, weighs whether to file criminal charges related to the fatal fire. Cohen did not immediately return phone calls for comment Thursday. Cohen has been reviewing an investigation into the fatal fire since late January.
Stamford police Capt. Richard Conklin said investigators met with Cohen last week, and Cohen told them he was still weeks away from releasing his findings.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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