Product Recall

Arctic Cat Recalls Snowmobiles


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In subrogation cases where the insured’s damages were caused by a defective product, the fact that the product at issue is or was subject to a recall announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may help to establish that the product was defective when it left the manufacturer’s possession and control. On April 18, 2019, the CPSC announced the following recall related to a product that presents a fire hazard:

Arctic Cat Recalls Snowmobiles Due to Fire Hazard.

According to the CPSC, “[w]hile operating the snowmobile the exhaust can flame from the muffler outlet, posing a fire hazard.”

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Fire

Fire Loss Subrogation Counsel and Origin and Cause Consultants Must Work Together in Responding to Opinion Admissibility Challenges


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Philadelphia Contributorship Ins. Co. a/s/o David Munz v. Ryan, Inc., 2019 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 62, involves a typical fire loss subrogation claim requiring expert testimony from an origin and cause consultant and a furnace consultant. The facts are straightforward. The Munz home lost heat. Munz called furnace service contractor Ryan, Inc. to check the system and make needed repairs. One month later, a fire originating in the furnace damaged the home. Munz’s insurer paid the first party claim and filed a subrogation action against Ryan, Inc. The underlying liability theory was that the Ryan, Inc. furnace technician should not have repaired the furnace and placed it back into service. Continue reading

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Gavel

New Jersey Court Washes Away Insurer’s Waiver of Subrogation Arguments


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Subrogating insurers often address waiver of subrogation clauses in the form contracts drafted by the American Institute of Architects. In ACE Am. Ins. Co. v. Am. Med. Plumbing, No. A-5395-16T4, 2019 N.J. Super. LEXIS 45 (App. Div.), ACE American Insurance Company (ACE) argued that the waiver clause in the AIA General Conditions form A201-2007 did not extend to the post-construction loss at issue. Adopting what the court termed the “majority” position, the Appellate Division held that, by reading §§ 11.3.5 and 11.3.7 together, the waiver applied to bar the insurer’s subrogation claim. The Appellate Court’s ruling makes pursuing subrogation against New Jersey contractors using AIA contract forms more difficult. Continue reading

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Time

Arbitration: For Whom the Statute of Limitations Does Not Toll in Pennsylvania


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In Morse v. Fisher Asset Management, LLC, 2019 Pa. Super. 78, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania considered whether the plaintiff’s action was stayed when the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint after sustaining the defendants’ preliminary objections seeking enforcement of an arbitration clause in the contract at issue. The Superior Court—distinguishing between a defendant who files a motion to compel arbitration and a defendant who files preliminary objections based on an arbitration clause—held that, in the latter scenario, if the defendant’s preliminary objections are sustained, the statute of limitations is not tolled. This case establishes that, in Pennsylvania, plaintiffs seeking to defeat a challenge to a lawsuit based on a purported agreement to arbitrate need to pay close attention to the type of motion the defendant files to defeat the plaintiff’s lawsuit. Continue reading

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Large Property Loss

Fire Consultants Cannot Base Opinions on Speculation


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Larsen v. 401 Main St. Inc., 302 Neb. 454 (2019), involved a fire originating in the basement of the Quart House Pub (Pub) in Plattsmouth, Nebraska that spread to and damaged Plattsmouth Chiropractic Center, Inc., a neighboring business. Fire investigators could not enter the building because the structure was unsafe and demolished. The chiropractic center nevertheless sued the Pub alleging that its failure to maintain and replace basement mechanical equipment caused ignition. Continue reading

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Recall Alert

Interline Brands Recalls Proplus Brass Flare Swivel Fittings


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In subrogation cases where the insured’s damages were caused by a defective product, the fact that the product at issue is or was subject to a recall announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may help to establish that the product was defective when it left the manufacturer’s possession and control. On March 28, 2019, the CPSC announced the following recall related to a product that presents a fire hazard:

Interline Brands Recalls Swivel Fittings Due to Fire Hazard.

According to the CPSC, “[t]he fittings can leak, posing a fire hazard.” The swivels are used “primarily for LP gas (propane) applications by professional installers.”

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Fire

Tenants Who Negligently Cause Fires in Florida Beware: You May Be Liable to the Landlord’s Insurer


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In Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v. Puccini, LLC, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 1487, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D 383, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals considered whether a landlord’s carrier, Zurich American Insurance Company (Zurich), was precluded from pursuing a subrogation claim against the landlord’s tenant, Puccini, LLC (Puccini), for fire-related damages. After the fire, Zurich paid its insured, Lincoln-Drexel Waserstein, Ltd. (Lincoln), over $2.1 million. Zurich then proceeded with an action against Puccini. Puccini filed for summary judgment arguing that it was an additional insured under the Zurich policy. The trial court agreed with Puccini and dismissed the action. Zurich then appealed the case to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals. Finding that the lease contemplated both liability on the part of the tenant and indemnification in favor of the landlord, the court held that the tenant was not an implied co-insured under Zurich’s policy. Thus, the court allowed Zurich’s subrogation action. Continue reading

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Product Recall

Consumer Product Safety Commission Announces Multiple Recalls


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In subrogation cases where the insured’s damages were caused by a defective product, the fact that the product at issue is or was subject to a recall announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may help to establish that the product was defective when it left the manufacturer’s possession and control. Recently, the CPSC announced the following recalls related to products that present fire hazards:

Kubota Recalls Zero Turn Mowers Due to Fire Hazard (March 20, 2019);

American Honda Recalls Portable Generators Due to Fire and Burn Hazards (March 20, 2019);

Bulk Unlimited Recalls Children’s Globes Due to Fire and Burn Hazards (March 21, 2019).

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Pointing out a Problem

Minnesota “Fryes” the Difference Between Novel Scientific Theory and Novel Science


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In re 3M Bair Hugger Litig., 2019 Minn. App. LEXIS 11, the Minnesota Court of Appeals analyzed the applicable standard for determining whether or not expert opinion testimony based on a novel scientific theory is admissible. Using the Frye-Mack standard, the court reinforced that if an expert opinion involves a novel scientific theory, the underlying evidence used to formulate that theory must be generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. The court further articulated the standard by confirming that, pursuant to Minn. R. Evid. 702, the Frye-Mack applies to novel scientific theory, not novel science. Once the standard is deemed applicable, the court must find the novel scientific theory to be generally accepted in the scientific community to admit the expert’s testimony. Although 3M does not discuss subrogation matters, its analysis should apply with equal force to opinions offered by experts in subrogation cases. Continue reading

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Recall Alert

Multiple Consumer Product Safety Commission Recalls


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In subrogation cases where the insured’s damages were caused by a defective product, the fact that the product at issue is or was subject to a recall announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may help to establish that the product was defective when it left the manufacturer’s possession and control. On March 14, 2019, the CPSC announced the following recalls related to products that present fire hazards:

Kawasaki USA Recalls Off-Highway Utility Vehicles Due to Fuel Leak, Fire Hazards;

Brush Art Recalls WIC Nutrition Plates Due to Fire Hazard; and

Tech Gear 5.7 Recalls Performance Heated Socks Due to Fire and Burn Hazards.

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