In a recent unpublished opinion, Hale v. Bassette, No. HHD-CV-20-6124046-S, 2022 Conn.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.
Although the focus of most subrogation cases is usually on proving liability, determining the appropriate measure of damages is just as important. Sometimes turning on a nuanced argument for recoverability, an adverse holding can significantly boost or reduce the total damages in a case. The Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District (Court) recently decided such an issue in a case involving subrogation, holding that the defendants owed much more than they originally anticipated. Continue reading
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
In Kornbleuth v. Westover, 2020 N.J. LEXIS 298, the Supreme Court of New Jersey considered whether the trail court properly dismissed the plaintiffs’ trespass claim against their neighbors for failing to offer evidence of diminution of the market value of their property. The Supreme Court upheld the dismissal, finding that the plaintiffs’ damages could not be determined, as a matter of law, because they did not offer evidence of the diminution of market value of their property as a result of the trespass. Although the plaintiffs presented evidence of the cost to restore the property, the court held that determining the applicable measure of damages for a trespass claim is dependent on the diminution of market value and whether or not the restoration costs are proportionate to that value. Continue reading
In Westfield Insurance Group v. Silco Fire & Security, 2019 Ohio App. LEXIS 2810, the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth Appellate District addressed whether the trial court properly instructed the jury that the applicable measure of damages for damage done to a computer network was the network’s replacement cost value rather than its fair market value. Based on the unique circumstances of the case, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it instructed the jury on the replacement cost measure of damages rather than fair market value. Continue reading
In New York Cent. Mut. Ins. Co. v. TopBuild Home Servs., Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69634 (April 24, 2019), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York recently held that the “lesser of two” doctrine applies to subrogation actions, thereby limiting property damages to the lesser of repair costs or the property’s diminution in value. Continue reading
In Muncie v. Wiesemann, 2018 K.Y. LEXIS 257, the Supreme Court of Kentucky considered whether stigma damages in a property casualty case are recoverable in addition to the costs incurred to remediate the actual damage. The court held that stigma damages are recoverable in addition to repair costs, but the total of the stigma damages and repair costs cannot exceed the diminution in the fair market value of the property. The court’s decision establishes that if the repair costs are insufficient to make the plaintiff whole, a recovery for stigma damages up to the amount of the diminution in the market value of the home is appropriate. Continue reading
In Durkin v. MTown Construction, LLC, 2018 Tenn. App. LEXIS 128, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee considered whether the lower court properly took judicial notice of an alternative measure of damages to the measure of damages advanced by the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals held that the defendant has the burden of offering evidence of alternative measures of damages if it seeks to argue that the plaintiff’s measure of the damages is unreasonable. The Court of Appeals found that the lower court erred in taking judicial notice of alternative measures of damage when the defendant failed to meet its burden of proof. The court’s holding establishes that, if the defendant does not offer evidence of alternative measures of damage, then the measure of damages introduced by the plaintiff will apply. Continue reading