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Alleged Arsonist Sues Insurance Company

A man accused of setting fire to his Connecticut home in a divorce dispute may move forward with a lawsuit against the home's insurer for emotional distress he suffered during the arson investigation, according to a court ruling this week.

Richard Shenkman, 62, allegedly burned down the East Lyme beach house he owned with his estranged wife, Nancy Tyler, on March 5, 2007, after a court ruled that the house would go to Tyler in the divorce.

The lawsuit claims that Shenkman, who is awaiting trial on the arson charge, suffered emotional distress because of the manner in which the insurer investigated the fire.

Shenkman alleges that Central Mutual Insurance Co. didn't conduct an official investigation after Tyler told police that he was the likely suspect, which led to his arrest for the crime on May 10, 2007.

The fact that the insurer believed Tyler's claim without an actual investigation into the arson constituted a negligent infliction of emotional distress on Shenkman, according to court documents.

Tyler has since received the insurance proceeds from the fire.