The Los Angeles office, through William Webster, James Koelzer and David Bocan, recently closed the deal on the Hollywood Studio fire epic with a significant settlement after winning the liability phase of an inverse condemnation trial against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power ("LADWP").
The case involved a building fire at a motion picture studio in Hollywood, California. The firm's client, Affiliated FM Insurance Company, insured the master tenant and the owner of the building, and paid the master tenant for its business interruption losses as well as the building owner's cost to repair the building. Affiliated then assigned the recovery action to the Los Angeles office. Both of Affiliated's insureds, as well as six additional subtenants and insurers also pursued the recovery action for additional damages.
Affiliated contended that an LADWP transformer adjacent to the building faulted internally, which superheated cooling oil inside the transformer. The fault eventually caused the transformer to explode and eject the oil like a flamethrower on the adjacent studio. The hot oil landed on a skylight, which melted, and the burning oil started the fire inside the building. The LADWP contended that there was a preexisting electrical fire, which eventually caused the transformer to fault and explode.
At trial, Robins, Kaplan, Miller, & Ciresi L.L.P. attorneys William Webster and James Koelzer presented eyewitness accounts of the events, and extensive technical evidence about the inner workings of the transformer, the damage to the transformer and the failure analysis, as well as the sequence of events leading to the catastrophic fire. Ultimately they proved that the transformer explosion must have preceded the fire inside the building.
Just days before the sequel was set for production in Los Angeles Superior Court with the damages phase, the LADWP agreed to pay Affiliated $5,800,000.