On March 23, 2022, Stutman Law attorneys Daniel Hogan and Jonathan Acklen obtained their second successful trial verdict in just five months when a Philadelphia jury awarded $1,550,000 to their client, a national property insurer who insured an elementary school. The verdict was rendered against two defendants, SJL Company. Inc., and 11000 LLC, whose negligent conduct caused water to flood and damage the Philadelphia Academy Charter School. After a four-day trial, the jury deliberated for just two hours and returned a verdict, awarding Stutman Law’s client 100% of its damages.
Through the course of the four-day trial, Attorneys Hogan and Acklen presented evidence to the jury which showed that SJL Company, a neighboring tenant inside the building occupied by the Charter School, was responsible for responding to alarm notifications for two sprinkler systems that protected its warehouse space and had pipes extending through portions of the Charter School. They also proved that over a nearly 30-hour period from Friday, September 15, 2017, to Sunday, September 17, 2017, a SJL employee failed to respond to alarm notifications for these sprinkler systems. As a result, one of the systems failed and flooded the Charter School. SJL argued that the cause of the School’s flooding had nothing to do with the alarms but was instead caused by a corroded pipe that, in violation of local fire codes, had been improperly covered by a wall installed by the Charter School. The argument was, however, debunked by a successful cross-examination of SJL’s defense expert.
Ultimately, the jury found SJL liable for failing to respond to the alarm notifications, and 11000 LLC, the building owner, liable for failing to maintain and repair the building’s sprinkler systems properly. The jury also found that the Charter School was in no way responsible for the flood. As a result, the jury awarded Stutman Law’s client $1,550,000 for the amounts it paid to repair the damages caused to its insured, the Charter School.