Fire company sues to make insurer defend it against Warehime lawsuit NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

September 23, 1993

Officers of the Manchester Volunteer Fire Department are suing their insurance company to make sure they will be reimbursed for any money lost in a $500,000 lawsuit filed against the fire company by Manchester Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. and his wife.

In papers filed yesterday in Carroll Circuit Court, officers of Manchester Fire Engine and Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 are asking a judge to force Selective Insurance Co. of America to defend the fire department in the Warehime lawsuit and to agree to pay for the department's legal expenses.

The lawsuit contends the insurance company wrongly declined to defend the fire company's officers.

"The fire company is not equipped to handle this kind of litigation," said Michael E. Mehring, the Baltimore attorney representing the fire company in both suits. "It's really an unfortunate situation for these people."

In December, Mr. Warehime and his wife, Marianne, sued the president and disciplinary committee of the fire company, claiming the couple's due process rights of property and liberty were violated by the nine defendants when they voted -- behind closed doors -- to take action against the Warehimes.

Mr. Mehring said the Warehimes -- who were members of the fire company for decades -- were removed from the company after Mrs. Warehime was involved in a pie-throwing incident at a fire company carnival. Mr. Warehime was found to have been "derelict in his duties" when he declined to name a replacement for his wife, Mr. Mehring said.

By filing against the insurance company, Mr. Mehring hopes to delay the Warehime suit until a judge decides whether the insurance company should hire an attorney to defend the fire company officers.

Judith S. Stainbrook, the Warehimes' attorney, said she would oppose any postponement of her clients' case, which is scheduled to go to trial in November.

The fire company itself is not named as a defendant in the Warehime lawsuit.

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