French Opera Singer Dropped as Defendant in Suit Over Malibu Fire Home Loss

Hillside on Fire with Bright Flames and Black Smoke during California Woolsey Fire

Photo: Getty Images

BEVERLY HILLS (CNS) - The estranged wife of a French opera singer -- who alleges she had to temporarily live in a mobile home park when their $12.95 million Malibu home was destroyed in the 2018 Woolsey Fire -- has dropped the entertainer as a defendant in her lawsuit, which primarily targets State Farm Insurance.

Lawyers for Renee Izambard filed court papers with Beverly Hills Superior Court Judge Helen Zukin on Monday asking that 48-year-old Sebastien Izambard be dismissed from the litigation. The court papers did not state whether the plaintiff reached a settlement with the singer or if she was not pursuing that part of the case for other reasons.

Renee Izambard filed her case in October 2020. Although the case is currently before Zukin, State Farm attorney Sandra E. Stone has filed court papers asking that it be reassigned on grounds the judge is prejudiced against her client.

``Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there' is one of the most bogus corporate taglines in history,'' the opening line in Renee Izambard's lawsuit reads.

The insurer's ads are ``ubiquitous, most often featuring highly paid celebrity athlete spokespersons run during major sporting events,'' according to the suit, which alleges breach of contract and negligence.

``The company certainly doesn't skimp on its advertising spent to sell its insurance policies across the nation,'' the suit states.

The suit accuses State Farm of ``sophisticated and dishonest schemes and tactics to dishonor its policy obligations and missing no opportunity to squeeze and vilify its own insureds when they are at their most vulnerable.''

Renee Izambard, a onetime senior publicist at Sony Music in Sydney, Australia, then known as Renee Murphy, is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The Izambards were married in 2008 and have three minor children, the suit states. They bought a family home in Malibu and after years of ``painstaking and meticulous renovations and improvements largely managed and curated by Ms. Izambard, the couple's home in Malibu was transformed into a stunning French nouveau-farm house-style family compound,'' according to her court papers.

The home, which was located on a 4.2-acre hillside parcel that had ocean views, three separate residential buildings, tennis courts, multiple rooms and a large carport, was ``a unique ... oasis'' that was built to the plaintiff's specifications to raise her children in peace and privacy, the suit states.

She says the home was listed for sale at nearly $13 million in May 2018 and Sebastien Izambard obtained homeowner's insurance through December of that year. However, he and the insurance agent ``inexplicably obtained a homeowner's insurance policy with policy limits far below the value of the property and its contents,'' according to the complaint.

After suffering ``years of despicable physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse and coercion of the worst imaginable kind at the hands of Mr. Izambard, in early November 2018 the plaintiff filed for divorce,'' according to the suit.

The plaintiff says she remained at the house to be the primary caregiver to the couple's children while her husband ``was routinely away on tour living the life of a pop star.''

The Woolsey Fire swept through Malibu also in November 2018, forcing the plaintiff and her children to evacuate as their home was destroyed, ``with only the tennis court surviving largely unscathed,'' the suit states.

About seven months after the original claim was filed, State Farm paid out policy limits, but Renee Izambard ``was still left with millions of dollars of uninsured losses'' due to the alleged failure of her husband and the insurance agent to obtain adequate coverage, according to her court papers.

In a cross-complaint against his wife and State Farm, the singer seeks a judge's ruling that his wife was not authorized to receive any money from the insurer because she was an ``unauthorized and unnamed payee.''

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