Firm News

News about our firm and from around the Subrogation World

$614,974.00 Recovered on Three Consecutive Spontaneous Combustion Fires - Same Product and Fact Patterns!

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During the last five months, RMI recovered $614,974.00 on three spontaneous combustion fires, each in a different part of Ohio, but all involving the same product and fact patterns.

All three fires were initially believed to be related to other causes, but later determined to be the result of improper use of staining products.

Two of the losses were during the final phase of construction projects.  All three cases involved Minwax brand staining products.  In all instances the manufacturer’s warning and instructions as to proper use and rag disposal were not followed.

The first recovery involved a $204,974.00 settlement in eastern Ohio (Trumbull County) involving an extensive office remodeling project.  The settlement was close to the total recoverable loss.  Initially, the fire was believed to be related to an electric heater in the origin area.  A review of burn patterns, systematic ruling out of an electrical failure, and the evidence of staining being accomplished in another area of the building shifted the focus.

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RMI Presentations on Product Liability at NASP “Virtual” Spring Conference

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Product liability was the theme of this past month’s National Association of Subrogation Professionals Spring Conference. The conference, originally scheduled to take place in Nashville, Tennessee, was converted to a virtual conference.

RMI Attorney Dustin Smith, along with Mike Jacob, PE of Veritas Engineering presented a program on Cost-Effective Investigations of Product Liability Claims Involving Plumbing Products and Appliances.

RMI Attorney David Matejczyk, along with defense Attorney Tracy Knox of Barnes & Thornburg presented a program titled “Chess Match...What are They Thinking? Plaintiff and Defense Perspective on the Product Liability Loss.”

Product Liability Claims Involving Plumbing Products and Appliances

The presentation by Dustin Smith and Mike Jacob reviewed common water-based product failures in both the residential and commercial context. The presentation examined current trends and failure modes in brass fittings, polybutylene and cross-linked polyethylene hoses and other plumbing products.

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RMI COUNSEL GUEST PRESENTERS AT OHIO IAAI CONFERENCE ON PUBLIC & PRIVATE COORDINATION OF FIRE INVESTIGATIONS

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Event attended by over 300 Ohio fire fighters, public investigators, members of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and private investigators.

RMI Attorneys Glenna Roberts and David Matejczyk were honored to be guest presenters at the IAAI Northern Ohio Chapter Annual Seminar on fire investigations held on February 23 at Ashland University.

The RMI portion of the seminar addressed coordination issues involved between public and private investigations. Topics covered included control and transfer of the scene from the public investigator, safety considerations, overhaul as it impacts cause and origin determination, sharing of information and resources, forensic exams and fire causation trends in Ohio. The program included excellent discussion, interaction and sharing of ideas among the attendees.

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Subrogation Fires & Explosions Involving Death or Serious Injury / RMI Co-Presenter at NASP Litigation Skills Conference in Palm Springs

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RMI Partner David Matejczyk along with Brian Churchwell, PE, CFEI, CFI of Churchwell Fire Consultants were co-presenters on the topic of Subrogation Fires and Explosions Involving Death or Serious Injury at this past month's NASP Litigation Skills Conference held in Palm Springs, California.  During their respective careers, both presenters have been involved in numerous fire and explosion investigations with a death or serious injury component.

The program explored the complex ethical and legal issues to the investigator, subrogation unit and counsel.  Topics addressed during the program included investigator contacts and coordination with government officials; transfer of scene from public investigator to insurer; heightened evidence preservation; proper interview timing of injured insured or surviving family members; establishing a family contact and unrepresented insureds.

The program included the special nuances of NFPA 921 - Chapter 25, Death and Injuries.  Also addressed were issues involving cooperation and  coordination with the insured’s counsel; legal and ethical duties involving the injured or deceased insured; estate issues; pros and cons of intervention, coordinated or separate filing of the subrogation case and the insured’s personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. 

 

The presentation also included active participation and input from insurers, attorneys and experts from across the country involved with this serious and important topic.  

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RMI AWARDS & PRESENTATIONS AT NASP 20th ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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This past month the National Association of Subrogation Professionals (NASP) held its 20th annual conference in Orlando, Florida. RMI has been involved in NASP since its inception and was proud to be part of the 20 year celebration of subrogation professionals. Attorneys from our property and auto divisions were also presenters at the conference.

At the Sunday night reception, NASP President Kevin DeGarmo presented RMI partners Glenna Roberts and David Matejczyk with 20 year perfect attendance awards.  Dave was the conference chair at the inaugural (and two subsequent) NASP Annual Conferences. Both are past board members of the organization.

The following morning, RMI Attorney Amanda Martanovic received her Certified Subrogation Recovery Professional (CSRP) designation.  Amanda oversees the automobile subrogation division at RMI. Amanda was also a co-presenter in the automobile track at the conference. The session “Let’s Play Categories: Dealing with Challenging Insureds” explored multiple issues involving auto subrogation.

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RMI SETTLES $550,000.00 GAS EXPLOSION CASE: Second large loss gas explosion settlement in back to back months

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RMI in back to back months has recovered by way of settlement two significant six digit gas explosion cases.

This past month the firm settled a natural gas explosion that destroyed an insured’s commercial building in Columbus, Ohio. The previous month RMI resolved a residential explosion that completely destroyed a home. On both losses, the firm was retained within twenty-four hours after the explosions.

The $550,000.00 commercial building settlement was very close to the calculated actual cash value of the loss.

Despite being on site immediately, there was “catch up” involved as the gas company had already commenced return to service repairs.

The loss involved a main gas line servicing several city blocks. Luckily, an evacuation of the insured’s building occurred minutes prior to the blast that rocked the downtown area. The blast destroyed the insured’s building and displaced multiple commercial tenants.

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“BURN IT TO LEARN IT” LIVE BURN SEMINAR A SUCCESS - 150 Attendees at Ohio Event

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RMI was pleased to participate and co-sponsor “Burn it – to Learn it” - a day long information packed fire investigation and insurance subrogation/adjuster seminar.

The event featured a morning classroom program addressing legal and insurance issues.  The program was held at the Norwich Township and Fire Department state-of-the-art training facility. A live burn was held in the afternoon at the adjacent Franklin County Fairgrounds. The program was attended by approximatey150 representatives of the insurance industry (adjusters, subrogation units and in-house counsel), agents, property managers and local fire officials.

The classroom portion featured insurance issues including proper and compliant notice, roles and duties of the front line adjuster & subrogation unit, scene preservation, avoidance of bad faith claims, impacted third parties, losses involving injuries and proper damage documentation.

RMI partner David Matejczyk was a presenter on the insurance and legal issues from a fire loss.

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RMI PARTNER CO-PRESENTER: FIRE SCENE SAFETY, PRESERVATION & RELATIONSHIPS: THREE KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL FIRE INVESTIGATION

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RMI partner David Matejczyk, who has participated in hundreds of fire scene examinations in Ohio during his legal career, was a co-presenter at the NASP Annual Conference on the topic of safe and successful fire scene examinations.

The program titled “Fire Scene Safety, Preservation, and Relationships: Three Keys to a Safe and Successful Fire Investigation Subrogation” addressed steps to a successful fire scene investigation.

Co-presenters included the Chair of the IAAI Health and Safety Committee along with another experienced subrogation counsel from a neighboring state.

The program addressed the health and safety risks associated with site inspections, the legal risks associated with improperly handling site inspections, and the interpersonal conflicts that may exist during the site inspection process. The presentation addressed issues that arise during the early stages of a fire loss investigation: (1) the often overlooked environmental and physical hazards; (2) the sometimes overlooked NFPA 921 mandates for site access, site exams, and evidence preservation; and (3) the interrelationships between those involved in the investigation process and the conflicts that sometimes develop.

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RMI PARTNER GUEST SPEAKER ON SUBROGATION TRENDS AT ANNUAL AMERICA’S CLAIM EVENT CONFERENCE IN CHARLOTTE, NC

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RMI partner David Matejczyk was invited by Claims Magazine and sponsors of the ACE annual conference as a guest speaker at the annual ACE Conference held June 20-22, 2017 in Charolotte, North Carolina.

Dave was asked to present the topic “Maximizing Property Subrogation Recoveries: A Study of Current Subrogation Trends” to claims managers and professionals from across the country. The presentation covered not only trends in the industry, but a discussion of the role of the claims professional in the subrogation process.

 “It was enjoyable to not only address the claims side of our industry, but also having the oportunity to meet in person individuals who have been on the other side of multiple subrogation cases I have litigated througout the years,” noted Matejczyk. The session included an interactive dialoge as to the importance of front line adjusters and their initial involvement in the subrogation process. A formula and model used by many insurers on large claims was presented.   

 

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