Nationwide Recoveries

Persistence Pays Off During Litigation Over Fire at Luxury Ski House

A fire destroyed an insured’s custom-built luxury home at a prominent ski resort in the Rocky Mountains. When the fire occurred, construction was 80% complete, and the damages exceeded $1 million. Stutman Law retained a fire investigator who concluded that the fire was caused by sparks from an arc welder used to attach steel supports onto a decorative stone column in the home’s great room. The subcontractor responsible for the welding work possessed only $500,000 in liability coverage. The general contractor denied the claim, arguing that it had no responsibility for the negligent acts of its subcontractor. Stutman Law filed suit against both the welding subcontractor and the general contractor. In litigation, we learned that the subcontractor’s employee who performed the welding work at issue had little experience and was receiving on-the-job welding training when the fire occurred. We also developed evidence that the general contractor may have been aware of this fact. When faced with a summary judgment motion, we successfully argued that the general contractor could be held vicariously responsible for the negligence of its subcontractor when the work the subcontractor was hired to perform was inherently dangerous. After we defeated the summary judgment motion, the case was resolved with a policy limit contribution of $500,000 from the subcontractor, and another $500,000 from the general contractor who had originally denied liability for the claim.