Botched Fire Investigation Compromised Product Liability Suit Against Ford
SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — On October 2, 2019, Attorney Jordan Kendell won damages on behalf of his client, Bear River Mutual Insurance. The Salt Lake City, Utah jury found that Intermountain Claims, Inc. (ICI), a fire investigation company, caused Bear River to lose a high stakes trial against Ford.
On July 23, 2011, a family home caught fire and caused over $1,000,000 in damages. The home was insured by the plaintiff, Bear River Mutual Insurance, which hired the defendants, ICI and MorrFire Investigations, LLC, to investigate the cause and origin of the fire. ICI’s preliminary inspection found the fire to be caused by the 1994 Ford F-150 pickup in the family’s garage.
During subsequent investigations, an agent for ICI identified several pieces of evidence, including a component called a Speed Controlled Deactivation Switch (SCDS), known to be defective and the cause of thousands of fires nationwide. This component was mailed to MorrFire in Atlanta for further examination. MorrFire discovered evidence of internal failure within the SCDS and confirmed the link between the components failure and the fire. After filing this report, MorrFire mailed the parts back to ICI. UPS confirmed delivery to ICI.
During a federal subrogation action meant to hold Ford liable for the fire, Ford requested access to the recovered vehicle components. Neither ICI, nor MorrFire were able to produce the parts for inspection and claimed the crucial pieces of evidence were «lost.» Due to this spoliation of evidence, all claims against Ford were dismissed on May 22, 2017.
ICI was found liable for negligent third-party spoliation and professional negligence and ordered to pay $873,135.97 to the defendants. A six-person jury found ICI responsible for 85% of Bear River’s harm.
For more information about the case, visit eckolaw.com.
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SOURCE Eisenberg, Cutt, Kendell & Olson