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Tenants Not Liable to Insurer for Fire Due to Their Negligence
Description Massachusetts high court held that a fire insurer had no subrogation claim against tenants for negligently causing a fire that resulted in payment for fire loss to landlord. Lease did not establish tenant liability, so insurer has no claim.
Topic Insurance
Key Words Subrogation
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Insurer paid landlord over $200,000 for damages caused by fire in apartment building. Insurer sued tenant whose negligence, insurer claimed, was the cause of the fire. Trial court ruled against the insurer because the lease did not state that tenants were liable for fires started by negligence. Insurer appealed.
Decision Affirmed. Absent an express provision in a lease establishing a tenant's liability for loss from a negligently started fire, the landlord's insurance is deemed held for the mutual benefit of both parties, and tenants, as mutual insureds, may not be held liable in subrogation for loss. General language in the lease about tenant liability to landlord for losses caused by negligence is not sufficient to create liability to insurer.
Citation Peterson v. Silva, 704 N.E.2d 1163 (Sup. Jud. Ct., Mass., 1999)

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