Subrogation and Personal Injury Results
Ammonia Refrigeration System: After settling with one defendant for $15,000,000, Paul Falk and Dave Lechner obtained a $16,500,000 jury verdict in the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County for a total recovery exceeding $34,000,000. We represented Wells Dairy, the world’s largest privately owned dairy, in a product liability case against American Industrial Refrigeration (“AIR”) and Refrigeration Valves And Systems, Inc. (“RVS”). The suit arose out of a hydraulic shock incident which caused a valve to shatter, releasing large amounts of anhydrous ammonia. The ammonia then ignited and caused a large explosion that shut down production for months.
Hydroelectric Plant Fire: $20,000,000 recovery in case concerning engineering design, construction management, delay claims and fire loss damage.
Cold Storage Warehouse: $11,000,000 verdict obtained against a warehouse owner on behalf of a tenant. The warehouse owner had not properly maintained its sprinkler system which allowed the fire to spread throughout the massive facility and destroy the tenant’s business. In addition to the complicated fire spread issues, Paul Falk proved complicated business interruption and lost profits damages at trial.
Construction Accident: $1,389,961.49 jury verdict in favor of laborer struck by a pumper truck who suffered a broken hip.
Plastic Injection Mold Fire: $ 1,500,000 recovery for plastic injection mold fabricator tenant against industrial plant landlord. Lead counsel in action proved the fire damage to the tenant’s premises was due to the landlord’s failure to maintain and operate a dry sprinkler system.
Cold Storage Warehouse: $7,000,000 recovery in a cold storage warehouse facility explosion and fire. Falk Metz represented the owner of the cold storage warehouse facility in a lawsuit against its service contractor. The facility’s own maintenance employee selected a forklift that could not handle the weight of a compressor motor. The load caused the forklift to tip and rupture an ammonia pipe which released massive amounts of ammonia which then vaporized and ignited. Paul Falk argued that the service contractor was in charge of the entire job and that the maintenance employee who selected and operated the forklift was under the contractor’s control. The recovery set a new record for the highest property damage recovery obtained in the jurisdiction in which the case was pending.
Luxury Hi-Rise Condo Construction Defect: Lead counsel for plaintiff who had claims totaling over $8,000,000. The loss resulted from a frozen sprinkler pipe that fractured and took out the electrical system of a luxury hi-rise. A significant settlement was reached three days into the start of trial.
Million Square Foot Warehouse Fire: Lead counsel for plaintiff who had claims over $14,000,000 on a complex fire case that involved multiple product liability issues as well as fire spread issues. Presented lead product liability experts on the failure of a forklift and its propane cylinder. Presented lead expert on the fire spread issues. Procured substantial confidential settlement from multiple parties, two of which paid policy limits.
Office Building Fire: $4,000,000 in damages to tenant space and building structure in large single-story office building. Represented specialty office cubicle manufacturer in origin and cause investigation and use of electrical engineer and specialty product design engineer to prove causation was due to faulty installation and operation of other systems.
Spontaneous Combustion: Represented an injection molding company. Used paint filters spontaneously combusted and destroyed the plant. We developed a product liability case against the manufacturer of the spray booth, the filter manufacturer and the paint manufacturer. The case required a multi-disciplinary approach to secure the $3,500,000 resolution.
Shopping Mall: $3,000,000 recovery (policy limits) in a high-profile product liability case involving a defectively designed artificial, pre-lit Christmas tree that was erected in the center atrium of one of the nation’s first indoor malls. Falk Metz was selected amongst all of the many plaintiff’s attorneys involved to serve as lead counsel for the group. Falk Metz conducted an in-depth investigation which included tracking down eyewitnesses, selecting experts and obtaining consensus amongst the plaintiffs regarding damages and was able to obtain a policy limits settlement before filing suit.
Chemical Processing Facility: $2,300,000 recovery for an iron-worker who fell 20 feet through an opening in a catwalk located in a chemical processing facility. The chemical facility’s personnel created the opening in the catwalk while the iron-worker subcontractor was performing repair work to the structure nearby. However, the facility personnel failed to properly barricade, warn, or otherwise protect against access to the hole. The iron worker sustained a herniated disc in his low back which required surgery.
Medical Facility: $1,200,000 recovery for a carpenter who was caused to fall from a rooftop to a deck below due to an unprotected floor opening. The carpenter worked for the general contractor involved in building a new medical facility. The decking subcontractor placed an unsecured and unmarked piece of plywood over the opening in violation of OSHA standards. When the carpenter was moving materials over the piece of plywood, it shifted and he fell through the hole. He shattered his elbow in the fall. The decking subcontractor was sued and paid the claim. This significant recovery was made despite testimony that plaintiff was aware of the hole prior to the fall.
Outdoor Fireplace: $1,050,000 jury verdict obtained in August, 2011 for a homeowner whose home sustained fire damage due to a negligently installed fireplace.
Municipal Liability: $600,000 recovery in a water damage claim against the City of Kansas. We represented a real estate owner and its general contractor in a case against the city for water damage to the real estate and the contractor’s equipment as a result of a rupture in one of the City’s underground water service lines. Due to Falk Metz’s reputation for excellence in matters of this type, the case was resolved without even taking a deposition.
Tenant Liability: $330,000 recovery on behalf of the owner of a warehouse and its insurer arising from a fire that damaged the warehouse. The claim was brought against the warehouseman’s tenant for improper use of a propane heater and such recovery was obtained despite the legal prohibition against landlords subrogating against their tenants.
Improper Handling of Hazardous Materials: We represented a manufacturer and its insurer against a warehouse for damages resulting from a chemical fire. The warehouse employee used a forklift to unload hazardous materials without knowing the nature of the materials. The employee punctured the materials and ignited a chemical fire that destroyed an industrial facility. Our team handled the site examination and developed and prosecuted a case against the warehouse. The settlement amount was confidential but amounted to 77% of a substantial claim.
Product Liability: We represented an insurer in a large commercial fire stemming from a defective popcorn maker. The manufacturer’s design permitted popcorn to come into contact with the heating elements and the fire caused substantial damages to a movie theatre. We resolved the claims against the manufacturer and distributor for $1,500,000 or 71% of the legally compensable damages.
Electrical Fires: We have represented numerous owners and insurers in the midwest in cases involving neon sign fires. We assembled a team of experts to work on cases in Iowa and Wisconsin against manufacturers of neon signs that were involved in numerous fires. Those cases resulted in recoveries, including a recent $500,000 recovery in Iowa and $350,000 recovery in Wisconsin. The National Association of Subrogation Professionals featured the Iowa case as part of focus on subrogation.
Improper Electrical Installation of an Electrical Safety Device: We represented a tool & die manufacturer and its insurer against an in-house-electrician. As part of the forensic examination, we developed a theory that an improperly mechanically adjusted compressor starter failed to disengage the motor of a large compressor. We successfully argued that the electrician’s failure to test and re-adjust the safety caused the motor to overheat resulting in the explosion. The jury returned a plaintiff’s verdict.
Improper Storage Practices: We represented a Madison, Wisconsin owner and its insurer in an action against a tenant as a result of a fire in a commercial building. We oversaw the forensic examination and developed a case against the tenant. We successfully argued that the tenant’s improper storage of materials led to the fire. The case resulted in a confidential settlement of 95% of the legally compensable damages.
Natural Gas Explosion: We represented a homeowner and his insurer as a result of a natural gas explosion that destroyed the family’s high-end home. We quarterbacked the forensic examination to develop the case that the explosion stemmed from the introduction of over-pressurized natural gas into the family’s home. The case involved product liability and tort claims against the natural gas utility, two residential service companies and a residential roofer. The case resolved confidentially for 70% of the legally compensable damages.
Propane Gas Explosion: We represented a homeowner and his insurer against a water heater component part manufacturer. Our forensic and expert team developed a product liability theory against the manufacturer since its valve permitted the unintentional bypass of a safety mechanism. The case successfully resolved before trial (confidentially) for 80% of the legally compensable damages.
Industrial Dust Explosion: We represented a manufacturer and its insurer after an industrial fire destroyed a portion of the company’s production line. Our forensic examination developed a product liability theory against the manufacturer of the process equipment. That theory required the coordination of expert testimony in four different disciplines. The case resolved shortly before trial for $1,200,000.
Construction Project Dispute: $133,856.02 jury verdict obtained for restoration contractor against homeowner related to flood restoration work and alleged construction defects.
Fraud/RICO/Embezzlement: $562,414.10 recovered on behalf of company that was defrauded by its employee and a material supplier. The client’s actual out-of- pocket loss was $418,000.00.