Defense verdict on $450,000 fire loss

State Farm v. Nakano | Trial partner James Lemieux recently obtained a directed verdict for our client, Sheryl Nakano, sued by State Farm for $450,000 in fire damages to an apartment building.  State Farm alleged Nakano negligently caused the fire by placing a small table over a floor furnace grate, or that the table placement at least contributed to a faster spread of fire, causing more damages before the fire department could put it out.

We argued to the jury that Nakano’s placement of the table did not cause the fire, nor did she place anything on the grate which could have started it.  Moreover, the table did not significantly alter the spread of the fire.  The court agreed with us after more than 2 weeks in trial, finding State Farm’s evidence to be entirely speculative and therefore granted a directed verdict.  Pursuant to a prevailing party fee provision under the lease, we obtained a judgment against State Farm for over $128,000 in attorney fees, and $25,000 in costs.

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