Fire Loss Claim Suppressed by Philadelphia Partner, Donald M. Davis, Esquire

Donald M. Davis secured a Summary Judgment in favor of his client, a property owner/landlord of a warehouse leased to a distributor of truck parts, whose warehouse burned to the ground causing losses of approximately $750,000. The truck parts distributor’s insurer filed a subrogation claim against the manufacturer of highly flammable aerosol products which it claims were defective, leaked and caused the fire. The manufacturer joined the landlord as a third-party defendant, initially claiming certain electrical equipment installed on the property by the owner caused the fire. When the electrical equipment was eliminated as a cause, even by the manufacturer’s experts, the manufacturer then claimed that the landlord was liable because they retained control of the property and were required to install sprinklers or other fire prevention systems in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code requiring specialized handling of flammable aerosol products, and further failed to create required partitions in floors and ceilings to separate flammable products from other areas, and otherwise failed to implement appropriate fire precautions. At the conclusion of extensive discovery in the matter, Donald filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and convinced the Court that the owner/landlord did not retain control of the property as a matter of law, based on the lease terms and the factual testimony, and that no exception existed to the general rule of non-liability of a landlord out of possession, entitling Donald’s client, the third-party defendant landlord out of possession, to Summary Judgment being entered in its favor.