Author Archives: Michael J. Ciamaichelo

Update – Property Owner’s Defense Goes up in Smoke in Careless Smoking Case


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Property owners owe a duty of reasonable care to avoid causing harm to neighboring properties. In Steamfitters Local Union No. 602 v. Erie Ins. Exch., 2020 Md. LEXIS 347 (July 27, 2020) (Steamfitters Local), a matter originally discussed in a June 2019 blog post, the Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed that, where the property owner knows or should have known that people are habitually discarding hundreds of cigarette butts into a mulch bed along the boundary of the neighboring property, the property owner owes a duty to its neighbors to prevent the risk of fire. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Experts, Maryland, Negligence, Premises Liability, Subrogation and tagged , , , , .
Product Fire

Arkansas Federal Court Fans the Product Liability Flames Utilizing the Malfunction Theory


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To establish a product liability claim in Arkansas, the plaintiff must prove that the product was supplied in a defective condition, which rendered it unreasonably dangerous and that the defective condition was the proximate cause of the claimed damage or injury. Ordinarily, a plaintiff relies upon direct evidence of a product defect to establish its product liability claim. However, in some cases, the product sustains so much damage that it is impossible for a plaintiff to obtain direct evidence of a defect. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Arkansas, Products Liability and tagged , , , .
Gavel

Texas Federal Court Rules Amazon Can Be Sued for Defective Product


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Recently, in McMillan v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 18-CV-2242, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102025, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon) could be held liable as a “seller” under Texas’ product liability statute for injuries caused by a defective product sold by a third-party vendor on its website. Although the court’s analysis is based on Texas law, the decision puts one more crack in Amazon’s armor. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Products Liability, Texas and tagged , , .
Fire

Careless Smoking Causation Defense Goes Up in Smoke in Connecticut


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In Conn. Interlocal Risk Mgmt. Agency v. Jackson, 2019 Conn. LEXIS 230 (Sept. 1, 2019) (Conn. Interlocal), the Supreme Court of Connecticut considered a careless smoking case and whether, as a matter of first impression, Connecticut should adopt the alternative liability doctrine first set forth in Summers v. Tice, 199 P.2d 1 (Cal. 1948). Recognizing that the doctrine is a sound one, the court adopted it for cases proceeding in Connecticut. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Connecticut, Negligence, Subrogation and tagged , , , .
Fire

Property Owner’s Defense Goes Up in Smoke in Careless Smoking Case


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Property owners owe a duty of reasonable care to avoid causing harm to neighboring properties. When a property owner knows or should know about a condition that poses a risk of danger to neighboring properties, the property owner must exercise reasonable care to make the condition safe. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently held that, where hundreds of discarded cigarette butts had accumulated in a bed of mulch over an extended period of time prior to the fire at issue, the owner of the property with the mulch beds owed a duty of care to its neighbors to prevent a foreseeable fire. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Experts, Maryland, Negligence, Premises Liability, Subrogation and tagged , , , , .
Meeting Handshake

Insurers Subrogating in Arkansas Must Expend Energy to Prove That Their Insureds Have Been Made Whole


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Arkansas employs the “made whole” doctrine, which requires an insured to be fully compensated for damages (i.e., to be “made whole”) before the insurer is entitled to recover in subrogation.[1] As the Riley court established, an insurer cannot unilaterally determine that its insured has been made whole (in order to establish a right of subrogation). Rather, in Arkansas, an insurer must establish that the insured has been made whole in one of two ways. First, the insurer and insured can reach an agreement that the insured has been made whole. Second, if the insurer and insured disagree on the issue, the insurer can ask a court to make a legal determination that the insured has been made whole.[2] If an insured has been made whole, the insurer is the real party in interest and must file the subrogation action in its own name.[3] However, when both the insured and an insurer have claims against the same tortfeasor (i.e., when there are both uninsured damages and subrogation damages), the insured is the real party in interest.[4] Continue reading

This entry was posted in Arkansas, Made Whole, Parties, Subrogation and tagged , , , .
Construction Defect

Texas Court of Appeals Strictly Enforces Certificate of Merit Requirements for Claims Against Professionals


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In Texas, an action against a licensed/registered professional arising from the provision of professional services requires the plaintiff to file a “Certificate of Merit” (COM), which is an affidavit from a third-party professional setting forth the theory of liability against the professional. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 150.002. The COM must be filed contemporaneously with the complaint, unless the following two conditions, contained within Section 150.002(c), are both satisfied. First, the action must be filed within ten days of the expiration of the statute of limitations or repose. Second, the plaintiff must specifically allege in its initial petition against the professional that there is insufficient time to obtain a COM before the statute of limitations or repose expires. In such cases, a court will grant the plaintiff a 30-day extension to file a COM and the plaintiff may obtain further extensions from the court for “good cause.” If a plaintiff fails to comply with the COM requirement, Section 150.002(e) requires the court to dismiss the complaint and the dismissal “may be with prejudice.” Continue reading

This entry was posted in Construction Defects, Texas and tagged , , , .
Construction Defect

Illinois Supreme Court Holds That the Implied Warranty of Habitability Does Not Extend to Subcontractors


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The implied warranty of habitability allows a homeowner to recover damages for latent defects that interfere with the intended use of a home. In Sienna Court Condo. Ass’n v. Champion Aluminum Corp., 2018 IL 122022, 2018 Ill. LEXIS 1244 (2018), the Supreme Court of Illinois held that buyers of new homes cannot assert claims for breach of the implied warranty of habitability against subcontractors involved in the construction of the homes because the subcontractors have no contractual relationship with the homeowners and the damages are purely economic. As the court explained, the implied warranty of habitability is a creature of contract (not tort) and, therefore, only exists when there is contractual privity between the defendants and the homeowners. Continue reading

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