Category Archives: Landlord-Tenant

Fire

Kaboom! Illinois Applies the Anti-Subrogation Rule to Require a Landlord’s Subrogating Property Insurer to Defend a Third-Party Complaint Against Tenants


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In Sheckler v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co, 2021 IL App (3d) 190500, 2021 Ill. App. LEXIS 593, Auto-Owners Insurance Company (Insurer) paid its insured, Ronald McIntosh (McIntosh), for property damage following a fire in an apartment he rented to Monroe and Dorothy Sheckler (the Shecklers). Insurer filed suit against Wayne Workman (Workman), who performed service work on an oven in the Shecklers’ apartment that leaked gas and resulted in a fire. Workman filed a third-party complaint against the Shecklers for contribution and the Shecklers tendered the defense of the claim to Insurer. Insurer refused the tender and the Shecklers filed a declaratory judgment action. In the court below, the Shecklers argued that, as tenants, they were co-insureds on McIntosh’s property insurance policy. Following a liberal interpretation of precedent from the Supreme Court of Illinois in Dix Mutual Insurance Co. v. LaFramboise, 597 N.E. 2d 622 (Ill. 1992), an Illinois appellate court ruled that Insurer – who provided property insurance – must defend the tenants of a rental property from contribution claims if the tenants are co-insureds under the landlord’s policy. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Anti-Subrogation Rule, Illinois, Implied-Co-Insured, Landlord-Tenant, Sutton Doctrine and tagged , , .
Fire

An Insured In-Part: Michigan Court Holds That Tenant Is an Implied Co-Insured on Landlord’s Property Insurance Only With Respect to the Leased Premises


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In Westfield Inc. Co. v. Ritcher, No. 20-CV-12692, 2021 U.S. Dist. Lexis 94926, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan considered whether a residential tenant was an implied co-insured on the landlord’s insurance policy, and thus shielded from a subrogation claim brought by the landlord’s carrier for fire damage caused by the tenant’s negligence. The court found that the tenant was an implied co-insured on the landlord’s insurance policy, but only with regards to the apartment that the tenant leased. The tenant was not shielded from claims for damage to the rest of the building, the contents of other residents and the landlord’s rental loss income. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Anti-Subrogation Rule, Landlord-Tenant, Michigan, Subrogation, Sutton Doctrine and tagged , , , .
Fire

New Hampshire Applies Crete/Sutton Doctrine to Bar Subrogation Against College Dormitory Residents


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Pursuant to the Sutton Doctrine, first announced in Sutton v. Jondahl, 532 P.2d 478 (Okla. Ct. App. 1975), some jurisdictions consider a tenant a coinsured of its landlord absent an express agreement to the contrary. In Ro v. Factory Mut. Ins. Co., No. 2019-0620, 2021 N.H. LEXIS 34 (Mar. 10, 2021), the Supreme Court of New Hampshire held that the Sutton Doctrine, adopted by New Hampshire in Cambridge Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Crete, 846 A.2d 521 (N.H. 2004), extends to resident students in a college dormitory. Thus, absent specific language to the contrary, a student is an implied coinsured under the fire insurance policy issued for his or her dormitory. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Anti-Subrogation Rule, Landlord-Tenant, New Hampshire, Subrogation, Sutton Doctrine and tagged , , , .
Water Loss

Commercial Tenant’s Subrogating Insurer Barred by Lease Terms from Pursuing Landlord


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In Travelers Indem. Co. of Am. v. Schwarz Props., L.L.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18176, the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina considered whether the lease between a commercial tenant and its landlord barred the tenant’s insurance carrier from subrogating against the landlord for damages to the tenant’s goods. The court found that the tenant’s carrier could not subrogate against the landlord because the lease clearly and explicitly stated that the landlord was not responsible for the tenant’s property. In addition, the lease required the tenant to insure its own property and to hold the landlord harmless for any damage to the tenant’s goods. This case establishes that, in North Carolina, negligence claims between a landlord and tenant may be barred if the lease includes clear and explicit exculpatory and indemnification provisions. Continue reading

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

Pennsylvania Superior Court Fires up a Case-By-Case Analysis for Landlord-Tenant, Implied Co-Insured Questions


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In Joella v. Cole, 2019 PA Super. 313, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently considered whether a tenant, alleged by the landlord’s property insurance carrier to have carelessly caused a fire, was an implied co-insured on the landlord’s policy. The court found that the tenant was an implied co-insured because the lease stated that the landlord would procure insurance for the building, which created a reasonable expectation that the tenant would be a co-insured under the policy. Since the tenant was an implied co-insured on the policy, the insurance carrier could not maintain a subrogation action against the tenant. This case confirms that Pennsylvania follows a case-by-case approach when determining whether a tenant was an implied co-insured on a landlord’s insurance policy. Continue reading

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

California Court Invokes Equity to Stretch Anti-Subrogation Rule Principles


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By: Gus Sara and William L. Doerler

In Western Heritage Ins. Co. v. Frances Todd, Inc. 2019 Cal. App. Lexis 299, the Court of Appeals of California, First Appellate District, addressed whether a commercial condominium association’s carrier could subrogate against the tenants (aka lessees) of one of its member unit owners. After examining the condominium association’s declarations, as well as the lease terms between the owner and the lessees, the court held that the association’s carrier could not subrogate against the lessees because they were implied co-insureds on the policy. To reach its decision, the court explained that an insurer steps into the shoes of its insured, not the party with whom it is in privity. Although the first-party property portion of the association’s insurance policy did not, as required by the association’s declarations, have the owner listed as an additional named insured, the court held that it would be inequitable to treat the association as the sole insured for purposes of determining Western Heritage’s right to bring a subrogation action. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Anti-Subrogation Rule, California, Landlord-Tenant, Subrogation, Sutton Doctrine and tagged , , .
Large Property Loss

Indiana Court of Appeals Holds That Lease Terms Bar Landlord’s Carrier From Subrogating Against Commercial Tenant


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In Youell v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 2018 Ind. App. LEXIS 497 (2018), the Court of Appeals of Indiana considered whether a landlord’s carrier could bring a subrogation claim against a commercial tenant for fire-related damages when the lease, which did not reference subrogation, explicitly required the landlord to maintain fire insurance coverage for the leased premises. The court held that subrogation was barred because the provision requiring the landlord to maintain fire insurance established an agreement to provide both parties with the benefits of insurance. The Youell case establishes that, in Indiana, if the lease explicitly states that the landlord will maintain fire casualty insurance for the building, the lease evidences an agreement by the parties to shift the risk of loss to the insurer. This agreement bars a landlord’s insurance carrier from subrogating against a commercial tenant in the event of a casualty. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Contracts, Indiana, Landlord-Tenant, Subrogation and tagged , .
Water Loss

Connecticut Supreme Court Holds That Landlord’s Insurer Can Pursue Equitable Subrogation If Lease Requires Tenant Have Insurance and Holds Tenant Responsible for Damage


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In Amica Mutual Insurance Company v. Muldowney, 328 Conn. 428 (2018), the Connecticut Supreme Court considered whether a landlord’s insurance carrier could subrogate against the landlord’s tenants for property damage when the lease did not specifically authorize subrogation. The court held that, while subrogation was not expressly allowed, the language in the lease requiring the tenants to have liability insurance and holding them liable for damage was sufficient to overcome Connecticut’s common law presumption that a landlord’s carrier cannot subrogate against a tenant. This case emphasizes the importance of analyzing every aspect of a lease when determining the true intent of the parties with respect to subrogation. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Connecticut, Landlord-Tenant, Subrogation, Subrogation – Equitable and tagged , .

In Minnesota, a Tenant may, Depending on the Language of the Lease, be Liable to the Landlord for Property Damage to the Tenant’s Apartment but not for Damage to the Rest of the Building


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In Melrose Gates, LLC v. Chor Moua, et al., 875 N.W.2d 814 (Minn. 2016), the Supreme Court of Minnesota, applying the factors the court first articulated in RAM Mutual Insurance Company v. Rohde, 820 N.W.2d 1 (Minn. 2012), analyzed whether the parties to an apartment lease reasonably expected that the tenants would be liable in subrogation for fire damage caused by the tenants’ negligence. The Melrose Gates court held that, based on the language of the lease, the type of insurance the parties purchased, and the fact that the building was a multi-unit structure, the parties intended that the tenants would be responsible for damage to their leased unit but not for damage to other property. Thus, while the landlord’s insurer could recover the amount it paid to repair the damage to the tenants’ unit, it could not recover the amount it paid to repair other units or common areas of the building.

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