Elizabeth Horneff Secures Trial Victory For Scrap Contractor Accused Of Causing Industrial Fire

Partner, Elizabeth Horneff, successfully defended a Northampton County, PA industrial scrap contractor, Tri-Alliance after a week of trial in their home jurisdiction.  Tri-Alliance had obtained a contract to remove obsolete equipment and metal fixtures from several buildings at the Rockwood Pigments industrial plant once owned and operated by Pfizer.  The crew were six weeks into a multi-year contract when a devastating fire broke out in the abandoned metal building where Tri-Alliance had been using arc welding to remove stainless steel tanks.  Despite following all of the plant owner’s protocols and procedures, a fire broke out 8 ½ hours after Tri-Alliance cutting operations had stopped for the day.  Complicating matters, the building was coated in Galbestos, a tar impregnated fabric used as insulation in the 1950’s.  This caused extensive burning to the building exterior, roof, and all interior walls.  Contrary to findings by the local Fire Marshal, Tri-Alliance’s Fire Origin & Cause expert testified the magnitude of the fire made finding the point of origin impossible and the 8 ½ hour time gap eliminated arc welding as the ignition source.   After four days of testimony and five hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict on favor of Tri-Alliance.   Rockwood recovered none of the $3 plus million dollars it was seeking.