Preventing spoliation is messy, but pays off

Usually it’s simple to prevent spoliation: identify potentially interested parties, invite them to inspect the loss site, and preserve evidence. But when the Stutman firm received a refrigerator fire loss in 2007, preventing spoliation got messy.

After immediately retaining a cause and origin investigator and putting the refrigerator manufacturer on notice, we scheduled a joint scene inspection and retained the entire refrigerator to preserve crucial evidence. We then retained an electrical engineer and invited the manufacturer to a subsequent evidence examination.

After spraying the refrigerator with ozone and picking through rotten food and bugs, our experts recovered the refrigerator’s internal wiring. Our electrical engineer concluded that the loss occurred due to a failure in a Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) relay.

Although the manufacturer initially refused to settle, it later recalled 1.6 million refrigerators for an electrical failure in the PTC relay. Two months after the recall, which included the insured’s refrigerator, we settled the claim for $430,000.

To date, we have received over 650 claims from numerous insurance carriers, with combined damages totaling more than $13,000,000.

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