5045 Park Avenue, Suite 2B
Seville, Ohio 44273
330-769-0911

Firm News

News about our firm and from around the Subrogation World

BURN IT - TO LEARN IT! Insurance Adjuster/Subrogation LIVE BURN Seminar - June 7, 2019 in Hilliard, Ohio

 

progression use 2019

INVITATION...

RMI is pleased to have been asked to again participate and co-sponsor the 2019 information packed fire investigation and insurance adjuster/subrogation LIVE BURN seminar “Burn it – to Learn it!”

The live burn is being held Friday, June 7, 2019, 9:30 am at the Norwich Township Fire Department, 5181 Northwest Parkway in Hilliard, Ohio.

Your company's adjusters, subrogation units, managers and in-house counsel are invited to attend "Burn it – to Learn it!" Please feel free to forward this to others in your organization who might desire to attend.

A barbeque lunch is provided! The program is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP Michelle Hoffman of Thompson Building Associates (Ph. 614-863-9650) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The program will be held at the Norwich Township and Fire Department's state-of-the-art training facility.

class

Classroom training followed by live burn and analysis....

 FIRE DEPARTMENT

Program Description

From the first notice of a fire loss to the conclusion of the scene examination, this program addresses insurance adjustment and subrogation issues.  A topic loaded classroom program presented by RMI and Bensen Fire & Safety Consulting in the morning will move to a live burn of two pods – applying the insurance, investigative and legal issues to a live fire. The Norwich Fire Department will extinguish the live burns followed by an analysis of the fire patterns and causation determination.

Topics covered include:

-Roles and duties of the front line adjuster, subrogation unit and counsel.

-The fine line between mitigation of damages and spoliation.

-Avoiding bad faith claims and potential sanctions from the fire loss.

-Safety issues as to adjusters, investigators and all involved.

-Legal issues involving the insured, injuries from the fire, renters and impacted third parties.

-Control and eventual release of the scene.

-Proper damage documentation (adjuster tips for avoiding later deposition challenges).

-Identifying all potential subrogation targets (known and unknown).

-Proper and NFPA compliant notice to parties and others impacted by the loss.

-Scene exam protocols.

-Initial and joint scene examinations of the scene (do’s and dont’s).

-NFPA 921 / Identifying origin, cause, fire spread and responsibility for the fire.

After we learn…..it is time to burn!

-Live burn of Pod 1

-Live burn of Pod 2

Sponsors insert

 

 

Continue reading
  157 Hits

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

Cover for Use

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.

Diagram

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. 

BC DMM

 

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

# # #

 

 

Continue reading
  121 Hits

RMI DEHUMIDIFIER FIRE SETTLEMENTS $462,000 Aggregate in Recent Settlements

Dhumidifier Pic Combo

RMI recently resolved three dehumidifier fires with an aggregate recovery of $462,000.00 in settlements. The losses involved fires in southern, central and western Ohio.

Although the losses involved two different foreign manufacturers, all involved the same failure mode. In all three fires the dehumidifiers overheated, ignited combustible materials within the product with fire then extending to adjacent combustibles.

More specifically as to the product defect, each case involved an internal failure of the thermal protection device in the dehumidifier.

Dehumidifiers have been the subject of wide recalls in the United States. However, the Ohio Rules of Evidence do not permit the introduction of a recall into evidence to prove liability. An additional challenge is that the manufacturers involved are foreign corporations.

On all three losses RMI was involved in the early stages. The firm ensured that the proper entities (including the US supplier and seller) were on notice, scene preserved, that an NFPA compliant joint scene exam was held followed by a forensic lab examination to identity the failure mode.

RMI has extensive experience in litigating and recovering on product failures, with a thorough knowledge of Ohio Product Liability law.  Our attorneys include counsel with an engineering background, along with a firm member who has taught product liability law at the university level.  The firm has litigated defects involving most household appliances, commercial equipment, and vehicles.

Deuhimidifier Remains

 

# # #

Continue reading
  282 Hits

RMI AWARDS & PRESENTATIONS AT NASP 20th ANNUAL CONFERENCE

NASP 20th Awards

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.

NASP Conference DMKDGR

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.

Amanda Kevin DeGarmo PhotoCombo Diploma NASP

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.

NASP Propane Slide

In the property track, David Matejczyk along with nationally known expert Jerry Tindal, PE presented a program “Propane Explosions, Essential Elements to a Successful Investigation and Subrogation Recovery.” The presentation involved investigation and fact patterns on propane explosions, distribution systems, portable cylinders, NFPA 54, NFPA 58 and federal regulations.  The program provided a checklist for adjusters on propane explosion cases, theories of liability and discovery needed for a successful recovery.

Finally, at the conclusion of the conference Glenna Roberts was a guest on a panel that explored the development and future of NASP and the subrogation industry. RMI is proud to be a charter member of NASP. Congratulations to NASP, Conference Chairs and all involved on another outstanding conference.

Continue reading
  327 Hits

AMANDA MARTANOVIC RECEIVES SUBROGATION CSRP DESIGNATION

Amanda Kevin DeGarmo Photo

RMI Attorney Amanda Martanovic received her Certified Subrogation Recovery Professional (CSRP) designation at the National Association of Subrogation Professionals (NASP) Annual Conference held this month in Orlando, Florida.

Attorney Martanovic oversees the automobile subrogation division at RMI.

The CSRP designation is a significant accomplishment in the subrogation field. The designation is awarded to industry professionals who have met stringent academic and experience requirements followed by passing a comprehensive examination of multiple subrogation topics.

The first step of the designation requires five years experience in the area of insurance subrogation.

Amanda first started her career in subrogation while clerking at RMI. Upon graduation, Amanda was a natural fit at the firm. She began litigating cases for insurers throughout the state of Ohio. In 2018, Amanda was named manager of the automobile subrogation division at the firm. In that role she continues to litigate cases throughout the state in addition to overseeing a team of paralegals in RMI’s auto recovery unit.

The CSRP exam consisted of mastering multiple subrogation topics including the role of subrogation in the insurance industry, legal liability, product liability, investigation and evidence, automobile subrogation, no-fault and medical payments subrogation, workers’ compensation subrogation, healthcare subrogation and subrogation management and information technology.

Amanda and other CSRP’s from across the nation were presented with their CSRP diplomas from NASP President Kevin DeGarmo at a ceremony starting the NASP 20th Annual Conference held in Orlando, Florida on November 12, 2018.

Combo Diploma NASP

 

 

Continue reading
  389 Hits

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

Enhanced Photo Use

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.

“This type of explosion involved issues including the national fuel gas code, excavation/boring, contracts, Ohio Utility Protection Service, and related state regulations and laws,” noted RMI partner David Matejczyk. The experts retained on our client’s behalf did an excellent job working with our office.

The firm spent multiple days on site ensuring proper scene and evidence preservation, initial investigation and documentation with experts immediately retained. The loss involved three separate joint scene examinations. All told, RMI coordinated exams involving 34 parties and representatives of involved or impacted entities and governmental officials.

The firm had a tight deadline to work with given safety, condemnation and demolition orders issued by the local government.

The case was handled by RMI partners David Matejczyk and Glenna Roberts.

The month prior RMI obtained a significant six digit recovery on a residential gas explosion. That case involved servicing issues with respect to NFPA 54.

The residential explosion was litigated by RMI attorneys David Matejczyk and Dustin Smith.

# # #

Continue reading
  424 Hits

NEW OHIO LAW IMPACTS DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS: Governor Signs “Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative”

 

ohio license plate 2013

August, 2018

Every auto subrogation professional handling Ohio claims should be aware of a new law aimed at making it easier for suspended drivers to get back on the road.

Governor John Kasich on August 3, 2018 signed into law House Bill 336, known as the “Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative.” The new law will require the Ohio Registrar of Motor Vehicles to establish a 6 month driver’s license reinstatement fee reduction and amnesty program.

For those subrogation professionals who use license suspensions as a method of recovery, this is a law that needs their attention. Under this new statute, individuals with suspended licenses who have committed an “eligible offense” can apply to the Ohio BMV to either have their reinstatement fees reduced or have the fees waived completely if they meet various criteria.

Most eligible offenses are moving violations, but certain eligible offenses that have an impact on subrogation recoveries include: R.C. 4509.101 (Operating vehicle without proof of insurance), R.C. 4509.24 (Default on a payment that was required by written agreement after a motor vehicle accident) and R.C. 4509.40 (Nonpayment of Judgment). It is important to note that an eligible offense does not include an offense that involves alcohol, drug abuse, or a deadly weapon.

Crash

Additionally, under this new law, there are certain criteria an individual must meet before having their reinstatement fees reduced.  A suspended driver must have completed all court-ordered sanctions related to the eligible offense other than the payment of reinstatement fees. Additionally, at least eighteen months must have expired since the end of the period of suspension ordered by the Court. For an individual to apply to have their reinstatement fees waived, the person must prove they are indigent by showing they are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”).

The new law impacts the state reinstatement fees but does not address the requirement of a payment arrangement with the insurer. What the new law does is make it easier for individuals with license suspensions to overcome the reinstatement fee hurdle to get their licenses back. It is hoped that additional subrogation recovery opportunities may result as suspended drivers will be more willing to set up a payment arrangement if they know they can bypass the reinstatement fees.

The new law had bipartisan support in the Ohio legislature. The Registrar of Motor Vehicles has 90 days to implement this new program and run it for 6 months, however, lawmakers hope to introduce legislation next year that will make the program permanent.

If you have questions regarding the new law, contact RMI Attorney Amanda Martanovic at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.m@ohiosubro.com

# # #

Attorney Amanda Martanovic, CSRP, heads the automobile subrogation division at RMI.   

Continue reading
  1107 Hits

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

 

Cover capture class end

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.

2 Class to use

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.

Tom Bensen, CFI, CFEI, CVFI of Bensen Fire & Safety Consulting provided an analysis of identification of fire origin, spread and responsibility. Representatives of Thompson Building Associates – ResQ24 discussed proper securing of loss sites to prevent spoliation and liability issues. The morning program featured a discussion among industry personnel in attendance on the proper and safe mechanics of a fire investigation – from loss notice until release of the scene for restoration.

3 Progression use

After a barbecue lunch the program moved to the adjacent Franklin County Fairgrounds, where sponsors Thompson Building with materials from Holmes Lumber and Lifestyle Floring had prepared two pods for a live burn.

The live burn was coordinated by Bensen Fire & Safety with the assistance of the Norwich Township Fire Department.

Following extinguishment of the fires by the Norwich Fire Department, the burn patterns and other issues involved in a fire loss origin and cause determination were explored.

RMI would like to thank all involved for their participation in this successful event, and especially Michelle Hoffman of Thompson Building Associates.

5 IMG 4190 team pic

Program Sponsors....

Sponsors

IMG 4135 thompson end use

fire pattern end use

Title Use End

 

Continue reading
  1550 Hits

SUBROGATED HEALTH INSURER OR PLAN NAMED AS A DEFENDANT IN OHIO - "I received a court document! What should I do?"

Summon ClipCivil Procedure

Failure to Properly Respond Per Ohio Civil Rules May be Fatal to Your Subrogation Claim

In Ohio, court documents may arrive in several different forms. The court document or pleading most likely to be seen first would be a “Summons and Complaint” naming a plan or TPA (usually improperly named) as a defendant, which is very common in Ohio. In fact, some courts require the subrogated interest(s) such as a health plan or workers comp lien to be added as a party where not originally named. The document you receive may be an initial complaint alleging injury or an amended complaint by which the lien interest is being added to the already ongoing litigation. 

Under Ohio law, a defendant has only 28 days from the date the summons and complaint or amended complaint are first received in which to answer. The 28 days begins running as soon as the party or its agent (i.e., statutory agent, TPA, any office address, etc.) receives the suit papers. We all know this time can pass all too quickly during the press of ordinary business, while the court document is first associated with a particular member (or subscriber’s relative) and eventually makes its way to the appropriate handler for the first time.

A timely phone call to Ohio outside counsel, even with limited information, can help stave off the potentially bad consequences of a late response. It should be emphasized here that it is not sufficient at this point under either the Ohio civil rules or practical experience for the file handler to simply call or write the plaintiff’s attorney – the simple fact is that you need to get right with the court through counsel at the peril of your subrogated interest.

More urgent would be receipt of a “Motion for Default Judgment” against the lien interest. Worse still would be receipt of a notice of default hearing or a default judgment entry dismissing the subrogated lien interest. Again, in the spirit of “better late than never,” a timely phone call to Ohio counsel may ameliorate a problematic situation.

Even aside from these more typical “invitations” to join pending state court litigation, the plan or TPA may (and in fact should under the Ohio rules) receive court notices of hearings, depositions, etc. If you receive a notice or pleading from any court or party in pending litigation, and you do not currently have counsel assigned, receipt of such notice or pleading should prompt a handler to investigate: 1) whether a file has already been referred; and/or 2) whether the file now should be referred out to counsel (hint: if the first answer is “no” the second should be “yes”). Additionally, even where the subrogated interest is not named as a party, the plan or TPA may later become involved through receipt of a records subpoena or just a letter from the member’s counsel. If the matter is in litigation, this would be the appropriate juncture at which the interest should intervene in the suit.

One perhaps unique feature of Ohio law is the fact that the subrogated lien interest, even if not a named party, may ultimately become involved in trial via a third-party subpoena. Under the state’s Robinson v. Bates line of decisions, a defendant can introduce evidence of insurance/plan payments and/or provider write offs, etc., to counter the presentation of “face value” billings submitted by the injured plaintiff. This is true even if the subrogated interest has been “waived” or some out-of-court “understanding” has been reached with the plaintiff’s attorney. So, involvement of Ohio counsel on the ground is best done sooner rather than later when you learn of pending litigation affecting your subrogated interest.

Roberts, Matejczyk & Ita Co., L.P.A. has handled Ohio-based health care and health insurer subrogation litigation involving health plans, FEHBA (federal employee), Medicare Advantage and Self-insured ERISA, and other health plans for over a quarter century.

For Ohio litigation representation on subrogated health insurance matters, or questions of any sort, feel free to call Tim Ita or Glenna Roberts at Roberts, Matejczyk & Ita Co., L.P.A. at (330) 769-0911 (Email: Tim: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Glenna: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

# # #

Continue reading
  355 Hits

BURN IT - TO LEARN IT! - Insurance Adjuster/Subrogation LIVE BURN Seminar - June 22, 2018 in Hilliard, Ohio

Invitation....

RMI is pleased to have been asked to participate in an information packed fire investigation and insurance adjuster/subrogation live burn seminar being held Friday, June 22, 2018, 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Norwich Township Fire Department, 5181 Northwest Parkway in Hilliard, Ohio.

Your company’s adjusters, managers, subrogation units and in-house counsel are invited to attend.

Lunch is provided. Please RSVP to Michelle Hoffman (Ph. 614-863-9650) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

picture Scene Exam Picture 

Program Description 

From the first notice of a fire loss to the conclusion of the scene investigation, this program addresses insurance adjustment & subrogation issues, legal considerations, cause and origin investigation of a fire loss and much much more. A topic loaded classroom program in the morning will move to a live fire burn of two pods - applying the insurance, legal and investigation issues to a live fire.

Topics Covered

-Roles and duties of the adjuster, subrogation unit and counsel. 

-The fine line between mitigation of damages and spoliation.

-Avoiding bad faith claims and potential sanctions from the fire loss.

-Legal issues involving the insured, injuries from the fire, renters and impacted third parties.

-Control and eventual release of the scene.

-Safety issues as to adjusters, investigators and all involved.

-Proper Damage Documentation (adjuster tips for avoiding later deposition challenges).

-Identifying all potential subrogation targets (known and unknown).

-Product liability subrogation fire trends.

-Proper and NFPA compliant notice to parties and others impacted by the loss / protocols.

-Initial and joint scene examinations of the scene (do’s and dont’s).

-NFPA 921 / Identifying origin, cause, fire spread and responsibility for the fire.

 After we learn…..it is time to burn!

-Live burn of Pod 1

-Live burn of Pod 2

      .Your company’s adjusters, managers and subrogation units are invited to attend. Lunch is provided. Please RSVP to Michelle Hoffman (Ph. 614-863-9650) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Burn it to Learn it Live Burn June 22 Seminar

 

Continue reading
  550 Hits

Ohio Supreme Court Holds Third Parties Jointly and Severally Liable as to Subrogation Interest on Post Settlement Workers’ Compensation Benefits

WORKERS

CASE ALERT:

The Ohio Supreme Court has issued a decision underscoring the reach of the state’s workers’ compensation automatic subrogation statute.

In Bureau of Workers Compensation v. Verlinger (Slip Opinion No. 2018-Ohio-1481), Ohio’s high court reversed the lower courts, holding that both a claimant and settling third parties are jointly and severally liable for the subrogation lien, including as yet unpaid and future benefit payments. Third parties would include the tortfeasor, its insurance carrier, and the claimant’s underinsured motorist insurer.

In Verlinger, the statutory subrogee (the Bureau) filed suit asserting its subrogation interest naming as defendants the claimant, her insurer and the insurer of the driver alleged to have caused the accident.

The factual setting was interesting given that at the time of the third-party settlements there were no workers’ compensation benefits paid. In fact, the claimant had previously been denied workers’ compensation benefits for failing to demonstrate that the motorcycle crash injury occurred within the course and scope of the driver’s employment. The denial was subsequently reversed on administrative appeal and the claimant was deemed eligible for benefits.

The allowance of benefits occurred after the third-party settlements with the insurers.

The Ohio Supreme Court went further in holding that a potential workers’ compensation recipient remained a “claimant” under the automatic subrogation provision of the statute, at least until the time period for application lapses.

Under the statute a claimant has an obligation to notify a statutory subrogee of the identity of all potential third parties against whom a claimant may have a right of recovery. Statutory subrogees would include the Bureau, the Ohio attorney general (if the claimant is insured through the BWC) or a self-insuring employer.

Although a settling third party does not share the duty of notification with the claimant under the statute, the Court interpreted the law to impose joint and several liability on those third parties for failure of the claimant to protect the subrogation lien. Under Verlinger, the claimant and the insurers who settled with the plaintiff were held jointly and severally liable.

Indemnification language as to the subrogation interest in a release or settlement agreement may help blunt the impact of the Court’s holding on a settling third party. However, given the decision even if the release has indemnity language the statutory subrogee still has a right to assert its subrogation claim against all parties as they remain jointly and severally responsible for the subrogation interest. This is the case even if the benefits are allowed and paid in the future. Although the settling third party may in turn attempt to hold a plaintiff responsible for the lien, the subrogation rights against settling third party remain.

# # #

RMI’s roots run deep in the area of Ohio subrogation workers’ compensation.

RMI has represented self insureds, TPA’s and out of state insurers on Ohio subrogation workers compensation matters throughout the firm’s history. RMI represented the National Association of Subrogation Professionals (NASP) in the organization’s first ever amicus filing – a case before the Ohio Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the subrogation provision of the state’s workers compensation statute.

For your Ohio matters involving a workers compensation subrogation issue, contact RMI partner Tim Ita.

 

 

Continue reading
  649 Hits

RMI DEFEATS “SUDDEN-MEDICAL EMERGENCY DEFENSE” / $350,000 in Recoveries after Verdict & Settlements on Three Recent Challenges to Ohio Doctrine

RMI Sudden Medical Banner for Website Photo use

Ohio’s “sudden-medical emergency” doctrine has long been utilized by defense insurers and counsel to defeat subrogation cases. The defense is often used by insurers who claim a sudden medical or other emergency resulted in a driver losing control of a vehicle and colliding with a building.

In three recent cases, RMI has successfully challenged the defense resulting in $350,000.00 in aggregate subrogated recoveries by way of a verdict and two settlements.

All three cases involved property losses to buildings sharing a common denominator of a complete denial of liability by the vehicle insurer based on the sudden emergency doctrine. Two of the cases involved alleged medical emergencies.

Tim Ita tried a case to verdict in Hamilton County with a 100% liability finding in his client’s favor, an insurer of a retail store. The defendant driver claimed a sudden emergency resulted in his swerving onto the sidewalk and crashing into the storefront. Tim Ita also litigated and settled a claim for $146,000 involving a residential loss where the defense was that the commercial operator of a heavy equipment truck had lost consciousness from choking and collided with the insured’s home.

David Matejczyk recently litigated and resolved a “sudden-medical emergency” case in the sum of $180,000 for a subrogated insurer. The defense insurer maintained its driver collided with a commercial building because she allegedly lost consciousness. In that case, RMI immediately visited the loss site and matched witness statements as to specific locations along the route of travel. It was successfully argued that there was nothing “sudden” about the driver’s loss of consciousness, and that she continued driving despite warning signs of her condition.

Although the Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the sudden-medical emergency doctrine, each case is fact specific. The denial of liability and attempt to invoke the doctrine should be challenged by closely looking at the specific fact pattern to ascertain if the defense should apply.

# # #

 

Continue reading
  588 Hits

SUBROGATING PIPE FREEZE, SPRINKLER SYSTEM FREEZE FAILURES AND PLUMBING LOSSES / $516,000 Settlement on Pipe Break Claim / Subrogation Targets & Tips

WindBarierPhoto

Once again, Ohio is gripped with plunging temperatures and resulting claims from pipe freeze losses.  Recently, RMI was pleased to present a program along with Lee Fire Protection on “Sprinkler System Freeze Failures: Causes, Investigation and Successful Subrogation.” The webinar was a joint presentation with PLRB and NASP.

Plumbing failures occur when water in a system freezes. Water expands when it changes from liquid to solid, and if there are not sufficient air pockets a pipe break will ensue. Often the failure is not evident until a thaw or warming in temperature, sometimes two to three days after the bitter cold spell ends. The resulting escape of water can be catastrophic. RMI has successfully litigated multiple cases involving freeze failures in sprinkler systems, along with other pipe freeze and other plumbing failures.

Recently the firm had a $516,000.00 pipe break water loss subrogation settlement at a commercial building in northern Ohio. The case was litigated by RMI Attorney David Matejczyk.

Other significant recoveries by the firm have involved six digit settlements on freeze failures involving contractors who deviated from the standards set forth in NFPA 13 (Standard for Installation of Sprinkler Systems, and NFPA 25 – Inspection Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems).  RMI Attorneys  David Matejczyk and Glenna Roberts have litigated multiple large and small losses involving freeze failures, NFPA 13 and NFPA 25. The firm also this past year added to its property division Attorney Dustin Smith  a graduate of Ohio State’s engineering program whose background includes fluid and thermodynamics.

Recoveries related to freeze failure claims have involved sprinkler system installation, improper maintenance by service companies, improper insulation by contractors, improper plumbing workmanship, contractors who caused the building envelope to breach allowing cold to freeze pipes and management companies who failed to maintain heat in recently vacated properties.   

freezing thermometer

Common subrogation targets on a freeze failure loss include:

-Sprinkler system inspection/service companies

-Architects

-Plumbing contractors

-Insulation contractors

-Construction managers

-Roofers who may have impacted pipe pitch

-HVAC contractors

-Manufacturers, suppliers and sellers of heating related products that failed

-Alarm and security monitoring companies

-Tenants who failed to properly heat premises

-Management companies who failed to arrange heat in vacant apartments

Subrogation Tips:

Subrogating the pipe freeze failure loss is unique from other losses. A primary challenge is that mitigation efforts usually begin immediately to avoid further damages from plummeting temperatures. Often the subrogation target is an entity the insured calls as part of remediation.

As soon as the pipe freeze claim is reported, if possible ask the insured to photograph the loss immediately, prior to arrival of the adjuster.

Ensure any parts (metal pipes, elbows, sprinkler heads) are preserved and not removed from the scene.

On a freeze failure involving a fire suppression system immediately contact an expert and counsel who are familiar with the requirements of NFPA 13 and NFPA 25. It is imperative to have a professional investigate the loss who is familiar with NFPA requirements, including pitch of pipe, previous testing and maintenance and other technical issues.

Document and inquire why there was a lack of heat in the impacted areas. For example, was a thermostat set at the proper level by a tenant or the insured. Building blueprints and mechanicals from the insured should be requested, along with contracts, subcontracts inspection and maintenance records.

The subrogation notice letter on a pipe freeze claim is also different than one used on fire and other property losses. If the subrogation target was already called as part of immediate remediation efforts, address this in the correspondence along with a demand that all evidence removed or repaired be preserved or documented.

If you or your organization desire a pdf of the Sprinkler System Freeze Failures webinar prepared by RMI and Lee Fire Protection simply send an email request to either Dave Matejczyk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Nate Lee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nate Dave

Continue reading
  588 Hits

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

 DMM Scene Photo Bio

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.

Related to this topic, RMI offers a program to insurers on scene exam issues for both adjusters and subrogation professionals. For further information contact either Attorney David Matejczyk or Attorney Dustin Smith at RMI.

# # #

NASP Fire Scene Safety Title Slide 

Continue reading
  1031 Hits

ORIGINAL SPOKESMAN OF SUBROGATION HONORED

The Original Spokesmen of Subrogation

Attorney Jeffrey Baill, founder of the National Association of Subrogation Professionals, was presented with the organization’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in Austin, Texas at the annual convention.  RMI partner David Matejczyk was pleased to participate in the presentation along with three other original board members of NASP. Congratulations Jeff Baill, and thank you for your efforts on behalf of all subrogators!

Continue reading
  367 Hits

AMANDA MARTANOVIC AND GLENNA ROBERTS PRESENTED AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE “ANATOMY OF AN AUTO SUBROGATION TRIAL”

Amandaglenna roberts ohio subrogation

RMI Attorneys Amanda Martanovic and Glenna Roberts were presenters at a popular session in November during the 2017 NASP Annual Conference held in Austin, Texas, titled “Anatomy of an Auto Subrogation Trial.” The unique program involved a mock automobile subrogation trial where attendees played the role of jurors during the program.

Attorney Martanovic represented the insurer as the plaintiff’s subrogation counsel. In her role, she presented an opening statement, cross and direct exam of witnesses, and closing arguments. Attorney Glenna Roberts acted as judge during the trial, ruling on objections and instructing the jurors prior to deliberations.

The trial involved subrogaton professionals from the industry serving as trial witnesses (insureds, adjuster and fact witnesses). In this formidable battle between the parties, liability was evaluated, damages were dissected, and the credibility of witnesses was assessed. At the conclusion, the jury was instructed and deliberated before rendering a verdict that was then discussed at length.

Amanda Martanovic leads the auto subrogation department at RMI. She has litigated multiple automobile cases throughout Ohio. Glenna Roberts is a founding partner at RMI.

deep in the heart of subro 233x300

 

 

Continue reading
  391 Hits

RMI OBTAINS $651,355.00 JURY VERDICT ON SUBRO PROPERTY LOSS

Dustin Glenna Verdict Cropped

After a four day trial, a Franklin County, Ohio jury issued a verdict in favor of a subrogated insurer and its insured, awarding damages in the amount of $651,355.00.

The case, COMTEX, et al. v. Turner / PSC Metals, was tried by Roberts, Matejczyk & Ita attorneys Glenna Roberts and Dustin Smith.

The $651,355.00 award was the exact amount requested in closing by Attorney Roberts.

The subrogated insurer and insured successfully argued that the defendant, a large nationwide scrap metal company, had wrongfully converted product belonging to the insured. The defendant made only a nominal offer prior to trial. The case involved expert testimony as to standards of care in the industry and valuations.

On the fourth day of trial, the case went to the jury, who deliberated for two hours before making the award. A motion for prejudgment interest has been filed.

10/3/2017

# # #

Continue reading
  612 Hits

ATTORNEY DUSTIN SMITH JOINS RMI - Brings Engineering Background to Firm

Attorney Dustin Smith Hard Hat

Dustin Smith has joined Roberts, Matejczyk & Ita Co. as an associate attorney.

“Dustin brings an engineering background that makes him a natural fit to the property section of our subrogation practice,” noted partner Glenna Roberts.

He will primarily work on subrogation assignments from insurers involving commercial and residential fires, cases involving electrical and mechanical failures, water losses, construction defects, structure failures and product liability claims.

Dustin is a 2014 graduate of Cleveland Marshall College of Law and a 2010 graduate of the engineering program at the Ohio State University. At Ohio State he obtained his bachelor degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. He was a member of the university’s freshman Engineering Honors Program.

His engineering studies included extensive course work in electrical circuits, structural stress analysis, fluid dynamics and thermodynamics. While in college, Dustin also worked for a construction company in Columbus, Ohio.

At Cleveland State, he worked as an assistant to an associate dean, doing academic research with the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee. Dustin also worked as an intern in the Marietta (Ohio) Municipal Court.

Dustin’s unique background in both the legal and engineering fields, and desire to pursue a legal career in the insurance subrogation field make him a valuable addition to RMI’s growing practice.

Since joining the firm in July, he has been quite active on property losses including sitting second chair on a $651,355.00 verdict in September, participating in several scene and forensic lab investigations, and depositions.

RMI for over a quarter century has represented insurers in Ohio on property, automobile, health care and workers compensation subrogation claims throughout Ohio. The firm through its history has obtained significant recoveries on subrogated losses.

Attorney Dustin Smith Photo 1

 

# # #

Continue reading
  708 Hits

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

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.   

ACECROPPED

 

Continue reading
  435 Hits

2017 Litigation Skills Conference on Subrogating Construction Defects a Success!

construction workers l

The 2017 NASP Litigation Skills Conference held in Scottsdale Arizona, April 27-28, 2017 was a success. The two day conference featured experts, insurers and attorneys from across the country addressing the topic of subrogating construction defects.

RMI Partner Glenna Roberts chaired the conference.  Here is a link to the Subrogator Magazine conference wrap up: 2017 NASP Litigation Skills Article 

David Matejczyk was a co-presenter at the conference on the topic of "Overcoming the Independent/Subcrontactor Defense in a Subrogation Construction Case."

In addition to presenting the legal issues involved in this topic, attendees were provided with sample discovery materials to use when addressing this defense to a subrogation case. If you would like a copy of the sample discovery, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Continue reading
  451 Hits
Enter your username and password to make a payment.