SUCCESS STORY

Litigation Success: Due Diligence and Maintaining Position Leaves Ashley with a Happy Client

Litigation Success: Due Diligence and Maintaining Position Leaves Ashley with a Happy Client
Smith Freed Eberhard Associate Attorney Ashley Nagrodski recently obtained a settlement just minutes before arbitration, where the other defendant accepted all responsibility and agreed to pay the claim. Read on to learn more about this interesting case and to learn how Ashley’s approach to the case resulted in a successful settlement and a very happy client.

The Background Story
This case involved a spontaneous combustion that began on the balcony of a condominium unit. The defendants include the company that purchased the unit and a contractor hired to remodel and restore the unit. During the remodel, a fire started on the balcony of the unit where paints, solvents, and rags were being stored by the company hired to remodel and restore. The fire caused the sprinkler system to engage, resulting in water damage to multiple units throughout the condominium. Following the fire, one of the residents (the plaintiff) sued both defendants to recover damages caused by the water damage to her unit. The plaintiff damages included storage fees while her unit was repaired and the expense for alternative living arrangements during that time.

The Strategy
Smith Freed & Eberhard Partner Thomas McCurdy and Associate Attorney Ashley Nagrodski were asked to represent the defendant that purchased the unit. Following a careful review of the evidence obtained and after meeting with her clients, Ashley denied liability on behalf of her client and filed a cross-claim against the company that was hired to remodel the unit. Unsurprisingly, the company hired for reconstruction and remodel refused to accept liability, and early attempts to settle the claim were unsuccessful.

Ashley was able to save costs for her client by relying on the expert retained before litigation, who performed an investigation shortly after the incident.  The investigator determined the fire started by spontaneous combustion of staining materials being stored on the balcony by the company hired for reconstruction and remodel.

After speaking with the expert, Ashley reaffirmed her position that her client was not responsible for the plaintiff’s damages and that sole liability resided with the company hired for the remodel. With that position in mind, Ashley and her team worked hard to prepare for arbitration. Fortunately, the other defendant saw the strength of Ashley’s argument and chose to settle just minutes before arbitration.

The Outcome
Ashley’s approach to the case and preparation proved to be successful.  The company that was hired for remodel accepted responsibility settled the case right before arbitration and agreed to pay the entire claim to the plaintiff.  In the end, Ashley was left with a happy client, who was not required to pay any portion of the claim.  The outcome of this case is particularly important because the parties anticipate further claims will be made by other condominium owners in the future.

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