Robertelli Obtains a Dismissal in Fire Subrogation Action Prior to TrialMarch 10, 2021 |
In a large fire loss subrogation action, John Robertelli obtained a dismissal for our client, a private equity investment group, who was alleged to be the owner of a property where a fire started and spread to a neighboring property, causing extensive damage.
Our client purchased the property in a foreclosure proceeding, didn’t take possession of it and ultimately sold it 9 months later. The tenant at the time of the purchase stored various organic and mulch materials on the property that eventually ignited and destroyed large equipment and vehicles on an adjacent property. According to the plaintiffs, their prior complaints to the local municipality and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection about the condition of the property were a matter of public record that our client should have known about when it purchased the property.
The plaintiff asserted that the defendant had a non-delegable duty to ensure that the premises were safe and not hazardous. The depositions established that the tenant had sole control of the premises at all times and that the property owner had no prior notice of any hazardous condition on the property.
Our argument was that our client did not have a legal duty to control the activities of the tenant that was in complete possession of the property and our client had no knowledge of any prior complaints made. Nor was there any evidence to establish negligence and proximate causation by our client for the plaintiff’s damages as is required by New Jersey law.
At the close of the discovery period, where multiple depositions were taken, and one month prior to the scheduled trial date, we filed a motion asserting that our client was not legally responsible for the loss.
Ultimately, while the application was pending, the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all claims against our private equity firm client.
- John J. Robertelli