Stutman Law recently obtained a $3 million settlement following a sprinkler pipe failure at a luxury apartment building in Landover, Maryland. The incident occurred when two 4” steel sprinkler pipes that had been coupled together separated without warning, allowing water to escape the pipes and flood the building. The water damage was extensive, and residents of the building had to be relocated for several months to permit proper remediation. Stutman Law’s client insured the building owner.
Stutman Law began investigating the cause of the water damage incident shortly after it occurred. Working with top experts, Stutman Law established that the coupling failed, and the sprinkler pipes separated, due to errors by the sprinkler system installation company. Specifically, the company had installed the 4” sprinkler pipes with improperly rolled grooves, then failed to properly install the coupling’s components onto the sprinkler pipes. These errors allowed water to leak from the pipes and corrode the coupling, ultimately leading to the catastrophic failure of the coupling. Stutman Law’s experts opined that the sprinkler system installer had violated multiple codes published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), as well as the coupling manufacturer’s instructions and Prince George’s County Building Code.
Stutman Law filed a negligence action against the sprinkler system installation company in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division. Following aggressive discovery efforts, Stutman Law’s experts finalized their investigations and rendered opinions regarding the cause of the water damage incident and the reasonableness of the payments made by Stutman Law’s client to its insured following the incident. Stutman Law also overcame various legal hurdles related to contractual limitations contained within American Institute of Architects (“AIA”) form contracts that had been utilized by the building’s owner during the initial construction of the building and installation of the sprinkler system in reaching a settlement for $3 million.