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Defense Verdict in Lightning Strike Fire Loss Subrogation Claim

January 26, 2017 – Press Release

January 26, 2017 (Albuquerque, NM) — Hawkins Parnell & Young obtained a complete defense verdict in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico on behalf of Deans, Inc., a full service industrial electrical services provider. The case involved millions in damages for the complete loss of a salt water disposal facility due to a lighting caused fire. Deans had installed lightning protection over two rows of tanks at the facility--the only rows of tanks installed at the facility when it was asked to install lightning protection. Months later, the facility owner added a third row of tanks to his facility. Lightning struck this third row of tanks shortly after the facility started operations, resulting in a fire. Plaintiff asserted breach of oral contract and negligence claims against Deans, arguing that Deans had a duty install lighting protection covering the later added tanks. Deans argued, and the jury ultimately agreed, that the facility owner gave Deans very specific instructions on where he wanted the lightning protection to be placed, which did not include the later added third row of tanks.

The plaintiff presented two expert witnesses and the facility owner. Deans presented five eye witnesses.

The jury returned a complete defense verdict after two and a half hours of deliberations. The Honorable Judith C. Herrera presided over the week-long trial.

Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company v. Deans, Inc., Case No. 2:13-cv-00945-JCH-SMV