Fire Loss to Hotel; Negligent Security Services

Style of Case: Commercial Union Insurance Company v. Yale Enforcement Services, Inc.
Client:    Yale Enforcement Services, Inc.
Trial End Date:   1/21/2003
Court:    United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
Type of Case:    Fire Loss to Hotel; Negligent Security Services
Judge:    The Honorable Michael J. Reagan
Reed Armstrong Lawyer who tried the case:  William B. Starnes II
Jury Verdict

Plaintiff insured Car One Partners which hired Murthy Construction Company to act as general contractor for construction of a Ramada inn in Troy, Illinois. The defendant security company was hired to provide security on the site during hours the construction trades were generally off site. A fire occurred in the early morning hours of October 26, 1997 resulting in the complete destruction of the partially completed building. Plaintiff reimbursed the owner for $1,292,483.25 and sought indemnification from defendant, alleging that defendant failed to perform security services in a workmanlike manner and failed to promptly respond to the fire.

Defendant maintained that it provided appropriate security services at the site in light of what was known to defendant, and that its actions were not a proximate cause of the loss. Defendant offered evidence that the cause of the fire was more likely than not arson, and that the fire was extremely rapid. Defendant also claimed that plaintiff failed to retain and pay for an adequate level of security.

Last Demand:    $700,000
Verdict:    Defense Verdict (Jury found plaintiff’s subrogee’s negligence was 75% the proximate cause of the loss).