Author Archives: Melissa Kenney

Getting Control of an Accident Scene and Ensuring Evidence is Preserved

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The newest episode of the Subro Sessions podcast, hosted by associates, Ryan Bennett and Melissa Kenney, is entitled “Getting Control of an Accident Scene and Ensuring Evidence is Preserved.” Ryan and Melissa discuss fire scene preservation and safeguarding evidence on water damage claims and in fire loss cases. They share three examples of scenarios in which acting fast, retaining proper investigators and evidence technicians can ensure that the client is in the best position to evaluate subrogation potential.

Listen to all of our episodes on Libsyn. 

You can also listen to Subro Sessions on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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Reasonable Expectations – Pennsylvania’s Case by Case Approach to the Sutton Rule

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In Mutual Benefit Ins. Co. a/s/o Michael Sacks v. Koser, No. 1340 MDA 2023, 2023 Pa. Super. LEXIS 574, 2023 PA Super 252 (Mutual Benefit), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania discussed whether a landlord’s property insurer could file a subrogation action against tenants that had negligently damaged the landlord’s property. Despite there being more than one clause in the lease holding the tenants liable for the damages, the court held that because there was a provision requiring the landlord, not the tenants, to insure the leased building, the insurer could not subrogate against the tenants.

In Pennsylvania, a tenant’s liability for damage to a leased premises in a subrogation action brought by a landlord’s insurer is determined by the reasonable expectation of the parties to the lease agreement. Under this approach, to determine if subrogation is permitted, the court considers the circumstances of the case and examines the terms of the lease agreement. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Landlord-Tenant, Pennsylvania, Subrogation, Sutton Doctrine and tagged , , , .

This Girl is on Fire: A Conversation with Senior Fire Investigator, Rachael Klein

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The newest episode of the Subro Sessions podcast is out now. This episode is hosted by Katherine Dempsey and Melissa Kenney who are joined by Rachael Klein, Senior Fire Investigator at EFI Global. Rachael discusses what the procedures are for fire investigators when they arrive at a loss site, detailing how she finds the area of origin by identifying fire effects and patterns, preserving the scene and if there is potential for subrogation.

If you want to hear more about relevant subrogation topics, tune in on the third Tuesday of every month for the newest episode of Subro Sessions.

Check the all of our Subro Sessions podcast episodes.

This entry was posted in Subrogation and tagged , , .

Waiver of Subrogation and Lack of Contractual Privity Bars Commercial Tenants’ Claims

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In United States Automatic Sprinkler Corporation v. Erie Insurance Exchange, et al., No. 2SS-CT-264, 2023 Ind. LEXIS 105, the Supreme Court of Indiana (Supreme Court) reversed an order of the trial court that denied a motion for summary judgment filed by a sprinkler contractor. At issue was whether commercial tenants – one who contracted with the sprinkler contractor and others who did not – could recover for their respective property damages. The court held that under the contract’s subrogation waiver and agreement to insure, the contracting tenant waived its insurer’s rights to recover through subrogation. With respect to the non-contracting tenants, who sought to recover only property damages, the court held that the absence of contractual privity barred their recovery.

The case centered around a sprinkler system that malfunctioned and flooded the Sycamore Springs Office Complex (Landlord), causing extensive property damage to four commercial tenants. Surgery Center, one of the four tenants, requested permission from the Landlord to install a sprinkler system inside the building. Landlord agreed, in exchange for Surgery Center agreeing to be solely responsible for maintaining the sprinkler system. Surgery Center hired United States Automatic Sprinkler (Automatic Sprinkler) to both install and conduct periodic inspection and testing of the sprinkler system. The contract terms outlined the scope of work to be performed by Automatic Sprinkler and the work was limited to the inspection and testing of the sprinkler system. Although repairs and emergency services were excluded from the contract, each could be performed upon the request and authorization of Surgery Center for an additional cost. The contract also contained certain risk allocation provisions including a waiver of subrogation and an agreement to insure.

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This entry was posted in Duty, Duty, Indiana, Negligence, Privity, Subrogation, Waiver of Subrogation and tagged , , , , , , .
Signing Agreement

Eggshell Plaintiffs Can Help Maximize Your Subrogation Recovery to Include Building Code Upgrades

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In a recent unpublished opinion, Hale v. Bassette, No. HHD-CV-20-6124046-S, 2022 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2292, the Superior Court of Connecticut held that the plaintiff was entitled to recover building code upgrade costs associated with repairing a 150-year-old home damaged by the defendant’s negligence. In reaching its decision, the court applied the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, a legal principle that is more commonly applied in personal injury actions.  The doctrine says that a negligent defendant takes the injured plaintiff as he or she is found, making the defendant responsible for any injury that is magnified by the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition or injury.  The court found the fact that the home was 150 years old and susceptible to greater damage did not relieve the defendant of its obligation to make the plaintiff whole.

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This entry was posted in Connecticut, Damages - Real Property and tagged , , , .
House Flood

Tenants Underwater: Indiana Court of Appeals Upholds Privity Requirement for Property Damage Claims Against Contractors

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In United States Automatic Sprinkler Corp. v. Erie Ins. Exch., et al., No. 21A-CT-580, 2022 Ind. App. LEXIS 87 (Automatic Sprinkler), the Court of Appeals of Indiana (Court of Appeals) considered whether there is a privity requirement for property damage claims against contractors. The court imposed a privity requirement. The court also addressed whether a subrogation waiver in a contract with a tenant applied to damage caused by work done outside the contract, at the landlord’s request. The court held that the waiver did not apply. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Construction Defects, Indiana, Landlord-Tenant, Privity, Subrogation, Waiver of Subrogation and tagged , , , , , .

Jurisdiction by Consent: Georgia Holds that Corporations Registered to do Business in the State Consent to Being Sued There

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In Cooper Tire & Rubber Co, v, McCall, No. S20G1368, 2021 Ga. LEXIS 626 (Cooper Tire), the Supreme Court of Georgia (Supreme Court) held that Georgia courts can exercise general personal jurisdiction over foreign corporations that are registered to do business in the state. In Cooper Tire, the plaintiff, Tyrance McCall, filed a lawsuit against Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (Cooper Tire) in Georgia state court for personal injuries he sustained in a car accident. Cooper Tire filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Georgia, Jurisdiction and tagged , .

New York Federal Court Determines a Claim Adjuster’s Testimony Is Sufficient To Prove Damages

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In Phila. Indem. Ins. Co., a/s/o Baldwin Real Estate Corp. v. Barker, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87642 (N.D.N.Y. May 7, 2021), the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York considered whether the plaintiff, Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company (PIIC), a subrogating insurer, could prove its damages claim through the testimony of its adjuster, without an damages expert. The court held that, where the plaintiff’s damages proof was based on repair costs and the defendant offered no expert of its own related to the diminution in fair market value, the plaintiff could prove its damages using the adjuster’s testimony. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Damages - Real Property, Experts, New York and tagged , , , .

Idaho District Court Affirms Its Role as the Gatekeeper of Expert Testimony

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Many subrogation claims involving fire losses rely heavily on expert testimony. Expert testimony is admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 if it is both relevant and reliable. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), whose standard has been incorporated into Federal Rule of Evidence 702, the Supreme Court instructed federal trial courts to act as a “gatekeeper” of expert testimony, giving them the power to exclude expert testimony that is not supported by sufficient evidence. In Maria Fernanda Elosu and Robert Luis Brace v. Middlefork Ranch Incorporated, Civil Case No. 1:19-cv-00267-DCN, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14449 (D. Idaho Jan. 22, 2021) (Brace), the United States District Court for the District of Idaho exercised its gatekeeper role when it granted in part and denied in part the defendant’s motion to exclude expert testimony pursuant to Daubert and Federal Rule of Evidence 702. Continue reading

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