Subrogation Case Studies
Commercial Water Loss – MONTANA – Mediated Settlement
A popular sporting goods store suffered a significant water event when a fire sprinkler malfunctioned in the middle of the night, dousing $200,000+ worth of merchandise. The alarm system failed to properly notify the monitoring company of the water intrusion, and an on-site security company failed to notice water coming out the front door during routine overnight inspections. Investigation and discovery determined the sprinkler system had a defect that was on recall, that the recalled item had been replaced within weeks of the loss, and that the replaced part was also defective and failed. Through discovery, we determined that each of the potentially responsible entities, except for the on-site security company, was owned by the same umbrella corporate entity. The matter was placed into litigation, depositions taken, and the matter was ultimately resolved through mediation.
Residential Fire Loss – NEW YORK – Settlement
A university student who lived in the lower level of an insured’s rental home was entertaining a young woman who was careless with a candle. The subsequent fire caused significant smoke damage to the entire house, making the home uninhabitable and resulting in property damage and lost rents well in excess of $100,000. We were unable to locate the young woman for service of a lawsuit, but the former student who had been living on the property under the terms of the lease made him liable for the negligence of guests. Through discovery, we were able to establish that the young woman was a guest and not a resident, and that the young man was covered by his parents’ homeowners insurance, which paid the loss.
Commercial Fire Loss – MINNESOTA – Mediated Settlement
Within days after a fire destroyed a popular burger joint, we were called to establish and supervise the claim, including determining all potential parties, scheduling a site examination, and scheduling and participating in several subsequent laboratory destructive examinations. The cause of the fire was officially undetermined, but we pursued the claim on behalf of our client based on the strongest available theory for fire ignition. The matter was placed into suit and entailed numerous depositions, lengthy discovery and motion practice. The matter was resolved by way of mediation.
Workers Compensation – MINNESOTA – Mediated Settlement
This case involved an insured’s employee who was employed in Minnesota but injured in Wisconsin. The employee initiated a third-party suit. Because Minnesota law allows the workers’ compensation carrier to maintain its own action, we brought suit on behalf of the carrier. The case was complicated due to cross-border issues involving appropriate benefit payments, applicability of subrogation laws, and recoverability of various claims depending on the proper jurisdiction. The matter was resolved favorably by way of mediation.
Commercial Equipment Fire Loss – ARKANSAS – Jury Trial
Our client’s insured owned a large piece of commercial earth-clearing equipment that was being used in the creation of a baseball field next to a high school. Trees were being cut, cleared and burned in the area. The equipment, with only 50 hours of use, contained a defect that allowed a hydraulic hose to fail, causing atomized hydraulic fluid to spray in the vicinity of the hot engine and burning embers. The equipment caught fire and was destroyed, resulting in a loss in excess of $100,000. The case was litigated through discovery and multiple motion hearings including motions to dismiss, which were denied. We tried the case to a jury which rendered a favorable verdict for 100% of the loss.
Workers Compensation – ILLINOIS – Mediated Settlement
In this construction site accident, our client’s insured employee, an outside contractor, had come onto the property to perform some work. While walking along a temporary fence, a gust of wind lifted the temporary chain-link construction fence off the ground, which landed on the employee, aggravating a prior low back injury. The new injury required surgery and lengthy rehabilitation. Through discovery, we were able to establish that the fence rental company had failed to provide adequate instruction to the general contractor and its employees on proper movement and maintenance of the fence, and failed to provide adequate sandbags for the feet of the temporary fence, contrary to its own protocol. We also established that the general contractor had moved the fence on a number of occasions and failed to properly secure the fence or to request additional materials with which to secure the fence. The matter was resolved through mediation.
Residential Water Loss – NORTH CAROLINA – Settlement
This case involved a water loss in a residential home with damages in excess of $350,000. Acting as the General Contractor for the project, the original homeowner built the home and then lived in it for a number of years. While residing in the home the owner decided to finish an extra bathroom on an upper level. The owner improperly installed the water supply line to the sink by failing to properly tighten a coupling. The house was later sold to our client’s insured and while they were on vacation, the water supply line failed, running water into the home for several days. Another firm initially declined the case due to concerns over the applicability of the business exclusion in any applicable homeowners policy. We accepted the case and developed the theory that the original owner was not in the business of building homes. We also determined that North Carolina law allowed claims by subsequent buyers against home builders. Through discovery, we established that the builder alone was responsible for the faulty water line installation and that he had homeowners coverage. The matter was then tendered to the homeowners carrier which, after a brief period of review, tendered its policy limits.
Residential Sewer Back-Up – GEORGIA – Jury Trial
Our client’s insured experienced a sewer back-up into his home, caused by root intrusion into a common line. The insured brought suit for uninsured losses, and we intervened. Through discovery we established the source of the back-up was on county property, and that the County had notice of the issue due to a prior similar event. After a trial on all issues, the jury awarded a 100% verdict in our favor.