Non-Suit $897,000 fire subrogation case
A fire broke out at the Plaintiff’s restaurant, causing extensive structural damage to the restaurant, including destruction of the roof. The Defendant’s HVAC repair company was sued with the Plaintiff averring that it improperly installed and/or failed to warn of a dangerous condition which caused the fire. Specifically, the HVAC unit was installed without appropriate insulation and too close to the wall of the restaurant.
The defense successfully argued that the Plaintiff had insufficient evidence to prove these allegations. Furthermore, since this Defendant did not install this particular HVAC unit and did not repair the unit at its junction with the restaurant wall, it could not legally be held responsible for this accident. A Non-Suit was entered after three days of trial.
The Plaintiffs attempted to prove that there was improper storage of chemicals and that the same led to the cause and spread of this fire in violation of various OSHA, BOCA, and NFPA regulations. Our defense focused on the cause of the fire and the cause of the spread of the fire. The fire started in the roof and was thus the building owner’s responsibility. Furthermore, the building owner had the responsibility for fire suppression which superseded various BOCA provisions requiring the tenant to install fire suppression equipment.
The jury rendered defense verdicts in favor of our client against the Defendant building owner, the Plaintiff tenants and the Plaintiff borough. As to the Plaintiff fire companies, the jury assessed 70% liability against the Defendant building owner and 30% liability against our client. This translated to a combined award of $330,000 against our client. All claims for punitive damages were rejected by the jury.