Restaurant Fire Caused by 15-Year-Old Freezer Ends in Policy Limit Settlement

Stutman Law recently recovered $300,000 for its client following a fire originating at a 15-year-old commercial freezer in a Captain D’s Restaurant.  Because Stutman Law received the assignment shortly after the fire occurred, we were able to promptly assemble a team of expert investigators and secure critical evidence, including the freezer of origin, purchase and repair records for the freezer, and surveillance video from the restaurant’s security system. Stutman Law also ensured that the fire scene was maintained in its post-fire condition until several potentially responsible parties were notified of the fire and offered the opportunity to inspect the scene.  A subsequent laboratory examination by multiple electrical engineers confirmed that the fire originated at the defrost timer for the restaurant’s 15-year-old freezer. The freezer’s service records established that the defrost timer had been replaced multiple times prior to the fire by a third-party service provider.  That service provider was not approved by the freezer’s manufacturer as an authorized service provider, and most of the service provider’s other work had been on residential heating and air conditioning systems, not restaurant equipment.  Based on this thorough investigation, we issued a $300,000 settlement demand for the service provider’s liability insurance policy limit, which was accepted shortly after we filed a lawsuit against the provider. The settlement was finalized before a single deposition was taken and before any expert reports were produced, which minimized expenses and maximized our client’s recovery.