Court of Public Opinion Case #99-3

Claimant: Charles and Arlene Cravens

Manufacturer: Monaco


We signed the papers for our new 1999 42-foot Monaco Executive in early July, Arlene would be retiring in a few months from her job and we planned, with our two sons, to full-time in our new fully optioned motor home.

Monaco

In August, Arlene was working late one night and the plan was to bring the motor home down to her office to boon dock across the street before setting out on week-long trip. Unfortunately, we never made that far. At 9:00 PM, with Charles driving and accompanied by the two boys, two dogs, and a cat, the engine caught fire. Our oldest boy ran out of the coach racing barefoot across a sand-burr field to get to the fire department. Fortunately, we were only a few block from the fire station. Charles and our othe son could only watch as they controlled the dogs and phoned Arlene to tell her what was happening.

Burned coach

The fire crew responded quickly to contain the fire. As the exterior fiberglass caught flames, it spread quickly to the roof and came around the bed area. the firebox around engine prevented major interior damage but we still lost many items due to fire, smoke and soot damage. Everything finally settled down when all of officials on the scene departed and charred motor home was towed away.

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 The Metal shiel over the bed may have help to prevent more fire damage  This photo shows the charred roof and air conditioner

it was then the reality of our situation sunk in. there we were – two adults, two young boys, two dosgs and a cat at 1:30 in the morning with no home. luckily we were able to locate a nearby hotel they made an exception for our pets after hearing about our disaster.

The next day we reported the loss to our insurance company, to Monaco, and to the selling dealership. We were excited and encouraged by return phone call from Monaco that stared Mr.Enoch Hutchcraft, a company vice president, would personally inspect our damage motor home on the following weekend. Unfortunately, we had to be out town that weekend and so were not be able to meet him. We later heard that he determined the fire had stared in the turbo charger and that resolution of the problem would have to be referrer to Cummins, the engine manufacturer.

In the following week, we had two inspections by the insurance company and one by Cummins. We also received a letter from Enoch Hutchcraft that asked for the motor home to preserved further expert examination. He was anticipating a request from the insurance carrier for the repair estimate. We received word back that Monaco’s response to the request from our insurance company was that the coach could be repaired for about 25% of is value. This estimate had been based solely on Hutchcraft’s trip to inspect the couch. By now, it became clear to us that Monaco was not going to replace our coach under the warranty. Two week later, the preliminary investigation reports indicated that fire origin was the engine battery box and at the cables running back from the battery.These cables may have come in contact with the engine exhaust system and shorted out, thus causing the fire. MR Hutchcraft now blame the dealership for being responsible because thaey had rerouted the cables during the pre-delivery preparation. apparently the battery tray would not close when the motor home was delivered to the dealer and they had to make some modifications.

The same day the report came in, there was an inspection of the coach by an independent appraiser. His report stared that the amount require to repair the coach would be 70% of the retail list price at the time of purchase. He also said that even with full repairs there would be no way to ever get electrical system to function properly due to extensive damage and the complexity of the system.

The insurance company began the search for repairs bids and/or replacement. The manufacturer insisted that the repairs could be done for about 40% of the cost of a new one but others estimates showed it would be 70%. There were no NADA or Kelley prices available to help determinate value recourse was to new of an RV to be in the books. There were also quotes include for replacing it with a new one. The big problem for us was that several repair experts said that after the type of fire we had, no amounts of repairs would ever make right .
After two and half months, our insurance company issued a check declaring the vehicle a total loss. The amount we received was considerably less than what we paid at the time of purchase. We found out that we had made some real mistakes in our insurance coverage. We had not chosen the option for guaranteed coverage that would have paid us back specific guaranteed values instead of the actual cash value. We also had not chosen the protection of full-times coverage. This would have covered loss of contents and loss of use of our home. It would have covered our costs in motels, meals, clothing, and repair and cleaning bills.

We are still trying to recover from our financial setbacks. Arlene’s income during this period of time has kept us managing. We really stretched our resources purchasing this coach, never fully realizing the ramifications of a potential loss. We also paid an attorney during this time to represent our interests between the various entities who seemed most interested in protecting and their own interests.

We are back in the market to acquire a new motor home. We looked at another 42-foot Monaco Executive with the same floor plan as ours and found the battery cables were held in place with nylon ties and, at certain locations, were within one inch of the exhaust manifold. Please look out for this if you are considering this motor home. Remember that phrases like “substantial defect” in workmanship may one day have to be proven in court, no matter how obvious the defect appears.

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 Watch for the cables and wires near the exhaust

We received notice that the old motor home is being moved to a diesel shop for a complete tear down to definitely resolve the causeof the fire. The insurance company is preparing to determinate responsibility so they can recover their losses.

Charles and Arlene Cravens, Texas – 2/99


Claimant’s Request for Remuneration:

Current litigation asks for the recoup of losses in hotel cost, apartment rent, clothing, food, household, goods, memorabilia, and legal fees in the $35,000 range. WE would like to see manufactures and dealerships held accountable for standing behind their products and workmanship.


respondent’s Statement:

No Statement to date


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