Defense Verdict in a Fire Loss Subrogation Claim

Richard J. Gallo obtained a unanimous defense verdict in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (Newark). The matter, tried before Judge Joseph Greenaway, concerned subrogation claims brought by two insurance carriers that paid over $1.5 million for property damage sustained by a plastic bag manufacturer and its landlord. The plaintiffs contended that the defendant-sprinkler company had negligently failed to detect a blockage in the fire-suppression system that rendered the system inoperable in half the warehouse. The defendant contended that it bore no responsibility for the fire loss, because it did not install the system nor did it know nor had reason to know that there was a blockage in the system when it conducted an external inspection of the system the year prior to the accident.

Following a nearly two-week trial, a unanimous jury of 12 rendered a verdict in favor of the defendant. The jury agreed that the defendant did not know nor had reason to know that there were any blockages in the system.