Stutman Law

Nationwide Recoveries

Co-Insured Rule Doesn’t Always Bar Recovery

A ten-unit apartment building in Massachusetts sustained heavy damages as a result of a fire that involved a tenant’s use of a charcoal grill on the back deck of her apartment. Massachusetts follows the co-insured rule, also known as the “Sutton Rule,” which bars a landlord’s subrogating carrier from pursuing a fire damage claim against a tenant. However, Stutman Law’s investigation revealed that after the tenant was finished cooking, her boyfriend emptied the coals into a paper bag and placed the still-hot coals into a small shed attached to the apartment building. In litigation, we were able to prove that the fire occurred as a result of the negligence of the tenant’s boyfriend, and that as a non-resident of the apartment building, he was not protected by the co-insured rule. Stutman Law ultimately recovered $300,000 from the boyfriend’s homeowner’s insurance carrier.