HOUSTON (CN) – A concert violinist demands that ACE Fire Underwriters Insurance pay her the $100,000 for which her 1742 Domenico Busan violin was insured before it was submerged in a flood of “toxic soup” and ruined by Hurricane Allison in 2001. Karen Wilkson says ACE wrongfully claims it is only responsible for $18,000 – the value of the violin after it was ruined and could not be restored.
Domenico Busan (ca. 1720-1780) was a Venice-based violin maker whose bass fiddles are particularly highly regarded.
Plaintiff Karen McMahon Hall Wilkson, a longtime professional violinist, who has played with the Houston Symphony and others, says ACE demanded she try to restore the violin after it was ruined while stored in an underground vault at the Houston Opera’s Wortham Center.
(Many orchestra members’ instruments were ruined by flooding during and after the hurricane; other orchestras performed benefit concerts to help their distressed colleagues.)
The restoration failed, Wilkson says. She says ACE insured her fiddle for $100,000, which was its true value, and ACE should pay that – not the instrument’s post-flood appraisal. She also demands punitive damages for “malicious and reckless conduct.”
She is represented by James Cornell in Harris County Court.