Multi-party subrogation dispute as to liability for large fire losses
At the request of a large insurer, we defended an insured, commercial policyholder-tenant against subrogation claims from a landlord’s insurer who claimed our policyholder shared liability for a vehicle fire on the landlord’s premises. The fire resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fire/smoke damage to the leased premises. There were actually two defendants, the second being the mechanic that our client, the policyholder-tenant, had hired to address electrical issues in the vehicle. Those electrical issues caused the fire, though the co-defendant tried to deny any fault. Accordingly, at the start of the case, we hired a fire causation expert who pinpointed the cause as faulty electrical repairs by the co-defendant. When the co-defendant still denied liability, we hired an auto mechanic expert to address the repairs that were made and the additional steps that should have been taken to prevent the fire. I then took the deposition of the co-defendant’s mechanic, using our expert input to discredit the position of the co-defendant. I also analyzed the level of damages claimed by plaintiff with the help of an adjuster-expert. Our efforts and analysis led to a favorable settlement at mediation in which we were able to effectively exonerate our client and avoid any substantial liability.