Novel theory nets maximum recovery in a case refused by others

Stutman Law recovered $300,000 for the insurer of a Spokane, Washington, apartment complex destroyed by a fire. The fire started in the new building manager’s apartment the day she moved in. When she noticed that the refrigerator wasn’t working, she turned on the circuit breaker. The breaker also controlled the electric range. One of the burners was in the “on” position and ignited a box that was placed on top of the stove during the move-in process. From there, the fire spread to the rest of the building.

Was the apartment building’s manager to blame, or was one of the workmen hired to renovate the apartment before her move in date negligent? Although other firms turned down the case, Stutman Law filed suit and took the case to a successful mediation.

Thorough depositions of the flooring installer by Stutman Law’s attorneys showed that the installer had shut off the breaker in order to move the stove to lay a new floor. Before moving the stove, the installer turned on one of the burners to test whether the electricity was off, leaving it in the “on” position. The failure to turn off the burner caused the fire and led to a $300,000 award, the limit of the installer’s insurance coverage.

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