Gray•Duffy secures summary judgment in favor of client in a water damage subrogation matter.

April 2019


Michael Eisenbaum and Michelle MacDonald of Gray•Duffy’s Encino, CA office prevailed on a Motion for Summary Judgment on a water damage claim of approximately $140,000, based on the grounds that the Plaintiff insurance carrier could not prove any causation between the client’s actions and the flood that occurred.


Fireman’s Fund v. Nationwide Fire Protection Corporation

Plaintiff insurance company filed this action to recover approximately $140,000 paid to its insured when a fire sprinkler activated during a renovation of the insured’s restaurant. Defendant Nationwide was installing a separate fire suppression system connected with the stove in the kitchen.

Defendant’s employee was alone on the premises when he heard something fall in the ceiling and the sprinkler activated in the next room. He denied any interference with the sprinklers.

Plaintiff’s opposition relied on an expert in fire sprinklers who examined a sprinkler head approximately 3½ years after the incident, and then further conducted an investigation of the restaurant premises approximately four years after the incident. Gray Duffy objected to his testimony on the grounds that there was no chain of custody established which supported Plaintiff’s contention that the sprinkler head examined by the expert was, in fact, the same sprinkler head removed from the restaurant and was in the same condition.

The Court agreed with the defense that the expert lacked foundation for many of the opinions he was giving, mainly because of the chain of custody problem. Thereafter, after argument of counsel, the Court issued its final ruling, instructing the Plaintiff that it had “not connected the dots.” The Court further admonished the Plaintiff by saying that the case was being treated as though it were a “res ipsa” matter when, in fact, there was a viable alternative theory being put forward by the defense that construction debris from the renovation demolition fell on the sprinkler in the ceiling causing it to activate.

J the amount of $7,161.

Please Note: This article is necessarily general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice with respect to any particular case. Readers should consult with an attorney before taking any action affecting their interests.