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 done 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.

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