The attorneys at The Law Offices of William T. Kennedy, P.C. are proud of the complexity and diversity of the firm’s trial practice. The broad scope of the firm’s practice and success is evident from the following sample of representative cases.
Please note that the following descriptions are general as many settlements include confidentiality requirements. Even absent such requirements, we are determined not to compromise our clients’ privacy by publishing the names of the plaintiffs or defendants.
Tenants v. Landlord
Middlesex Superior Court
This case involved property damage and loss income claim that we were making as a result of the loss by two tenants in a fire loss that took place to a four-story building involving retail shops and office use in Newton, MA. The fire occurred in February 2000. Our claim was from two of the tenants among over 30 parties damaged in this building.
After over a two-week trial the jury found liability against the landlord and its principal for the negligence giving rise to this fire loss and the damages incurred by our clients. The fire in question started in a tenant’s office. Our claim was that the building owner was negligent in allowing conditions to exist including Code violations which allowed the fire to spread and ultimately destroyed the entire four story structure. Over 30 separate parties and tenants had their business premises destroyed and were displaced.
As this building housed over thirty tenants and was destroyed, any one of the tenants or their insurers could have brought claims against the landlord. Only five chose to. The other parties were clearly intimidated by the Defendants’ well-financed counsel and array of formidable experts. The litigation proceeded over three years. In fact, the Defendants had retained a forensic fire consulting firm that had charged hundreds of thousands of dollars for their various services and testimonies. Nonetheless, with some commonsense and skill, and nothing like the budget of the Defendants, we prevailed.
After a very difficult and hard-fought trial, the jury returned a verdict and finding of negligence as against the Defendant landlord and its principal. We are expecting that our client’s recovery with accumulated interest will be in excess of 1.5 million dollars.
Property Owner, et al v. Insurance Company
Norfolk Superior Court
This case involved the insureds’ claim that their cottage was moved from its foundation by high winds during a hurricane. They sought coverage under their homeowners insurance policy. They had no flood insurance. The insurer contended that flood waters caused the damage. The insureds had several claimed eyewitnesses and two engineers who testified that the cottage moved from the foundation due to high wind. Through cross-examination and development of inconsistency in the testimony of the insureds’ witnesses, as well as the presentment of the insurer’s own engineer’s testimony, a verdict for the defendant-insurer was obtained. In addition to the defense that the loss was not covered as caused by flood waters, we raised the defense that the insured had breached the cooperation clause by providing false statements in support of the claim. After a six-day jury trial, a verdict for the defendant-insurer was obtained on all counts. The parties had stipulated that the cottage was a total loss. The insureds stood to recover in excess of $160,000 with a favorable verdict. We also obtained an award of attorney’s fees and costs as against the plaintiffs for the defense of this action of over $44,000.00.
Electronics Manufacturing Plant v. Insurance Company
This is a claim in which the insured electronic manufacturing plant suffered a water loss when its roof collapsed. The insured claimed that its inventory required for precision electronics products was effectively destroyed by the water loss and contamination. The insured claimed its loss was in excess of $2.8 million dollars and sought the two million dollar Aetna business property limits. The insured was represented by a New Jersey based public adjuster and New York attorney. We represented Aetna and conducted numerous examinations under oath of insured personnel. Such examinations undermined the insured’s calculations of a $2.8 million dollar loss. We presented our findings to a three-person appraisal panel selected in accordance with New Hampshire law. The appraisers eventually reached a determination as to the amount of loss at $1.1 million dollars. We are also, on behalf of Aetna, pursuing subrogation against the insured’s landlord.
Commercial Property Owner v. Insurance Company
Federal District Court, Boston
The insured brought suit under a commercial property insurance policy. The insured contended that a water pipe broke, causing substantial damage to the insured auto repair facility. The insured contended that the water leak caused the foundation under the cement slab floor to be undermined, resulting in the loss of the structural integrity of the structure. The insured sought over $60,000 in primary damages plus multiple damages and attorney’s fees and costs under c. 93A.
We moved, on behalf of the insurer, to dismiss the Complaint as the insured had not satisfied the reference requirement as set forth in the policy prior to suit. In a landmark published decision the Court held that even though there were other disputes between the parties beyond the question of value or the amount of loss, the insured was required to submit to reference as claimed by the insurer prior to suit. After dismissal of the insured’s suit, we also raised issues as to whether the insured would be entitled to any payment because of the submission of false statements. The insured eventually agreed to settle all claims for the minimal the estimate to damages that had been originally calculated by the insurer.
Insurance Company v. Boat Owner
Norfolk Superior Court
This case involved a claim for a 29-foot boat loss totaling over $80,000. The insured, a wealthy retired business owner, claimed that the boat was stolen and found scuttled outside of Boston Harbor. The insured also sought triple c. 93A damages, consequential loss and attorneys fees for a potential recovery in excess of $300,000. A declaratory Judgment action was presented on behalf of the insurer requesting that the Court determine that the insured had presented a fraudulent claim and that there was no liability for the loss. There was no law enforcement prosecution or even investigation of the insured. There was no eyewitness evidence. The case was presented strictly on circumstantial evidence. Part of the evidence of the fraud as against the insured arose from the testimony of a former girlfriend of the insured. She testified that the insured had talked about scuttling the boat and sought her assistance. The insured strenuously contested the former girlfriend’s testimony, alleging that she was testifying falsely out of spite. Following a seven day jury trial, special verdicts were returned by the jury on all counts in favor of the insurer. Judgment was entered for the insurer.
Customized Van Owner v. Insurance Company
Dedham District Court
This case involved a claim for the theft of a customized van at a value of over $24,000. The insured’s claim for the value of the vehicle, consequential damages and claimed c. 93A triple damages and attorneys fees, totaled over $70,000. The vehicle was never recovered. There was no eyewitness to the events of the theft. We established the insured’s lack of credibility, in part, through showing receipts the insured submitted were fraudulent and fictitious. The Court found for the insurer on all counts. Costs against the insured for presenting this claim were assessed and payment to the insurer arranged.
Insurance Company v. Florist
Worcester Superior Court
This case involved a declaratory Judgment action by the insurer seeking a ruling that there was no liability for a fire loss claim occurring at the insured’s business premises due to arson and fraud by the principal of the insured. The claim involved over $500,000 in liability under a claim for lost business contents, building coverage and business interruption. Judgment was entered for the insurer. The insured was further ordered to pay over $20,000 in costs to the insurer.
Mortgagee v. Insurance Company
Fall River Superior Court
This case involved a $400,000 plus claim of the mortgagee against the insurer and claimed Chapter 93A violations. The mortgagee/owner had taken over the fire damaged property after a fire loss. The mortgagee/owner sought to contest the claim settlement amount after initial agreement with the named insureds, but before any payment of that amount or proof of loss had been received. The mortgagee/owner also sought over $200,000 in business income loss by reason of the lost rents at the insured apartment complex that remained unrepaired for over three years. The plaintiff-mortgagee also sought replacement cost and holdback payment although actual repairs had not been completed. The plaintiff had claimed that he lacked the proper funds to make those repairs. Upon a Motion for Summary Judgment brought on behalf of the insurer, the Superior Court ruled for the defendant-insurer on all counts and ordered Judgment for the insurer and against the plaintiff. Among the points of important precedent which were established by this decision, was the ruling that even though the plaintiff-mortgagee had an assignment of the insured’s rights under the insurance policy, the plaintiff-mortgagee was entitled to no business income or loss of rent claim as to the property and insured forty-two unit apartment complex that had been taken over by the mortgagee after the fire loss. The Court ruled that under the applicable policy and law, the policy rights to loss of business income only applies to the named insureds’ business income loss. As the property had been sold and transferred after the loss, even though the fire damage condition still existed, the business income loss did not continue. The named insured’s business necessarily ceased. The Court likewise held that the named mortgagee had no right to contest the amount of loss or demand reference after an initial agreement had been obtained between the claimed insureds and insurer. Further, the Court held that the plaintiff was entitled to none of the replacement cost holdback where no actual repair or replacement of the damaged property had occurred within the policy period specified.
Insurance Company v. Public Adjusting Firm
Plymouth Superior Court
This case, which is still proceeding, involves a claim by the insurer for repayment and damages due to the fraud of the insureds and their public adjusting firm. The insureds and their public adjusting firm, through this scheme, obtained over $500,000 in payments by the insurer for a water loss claim occurring to the insureds’ property from 1989-1991. It was developed that this claim was only part of a series of claims by which the insureds had obtained over One Million Dollars in property damage payments from different insurers over several years at the same property. The claim involves counts of fraud and unlawful conspiracy and seeks triple damages, attorneys’ fees and costs as against the insureds and their public adjusters. The claim against the insureds was severed from that of the public adjusters. We obtained Judgment against the insureds for costs and damages in excess of $800,000. Litigation against the public adjusters was settled for over $65,000 in payments.
Business Owner v. Insurance Company
Suffolk Superior Court
This case involved a fire loss claim for the insured business structure. The insurer denied the claim alleging that the policy had been breached by the arson of the insured, material misrepresentations and breach of the policy and failure to proceed to reference prior to suit. The insured vigorously contested allegations as to the defenses raised. It was pointed out that there was no criminal investigation of the insured or any investigation by fire department authorities. After a six-day jury trial, verdict and Judgment was entered for the insurer in favor of all three defenses that had been raised.
Property Owner v. Insurance Company
Bristol Superior Court
This case involved a claim for over One Million Dollars including c. 93A violations due to denial of a homeowner’s loss by fire which the insurance company denied based on arson. Among the issues present was the fact that the local fire department had investigated the fire and made its official determination that the fire was accidental in origin by means of a faulty propane gas kitchen stove. Plaintiffs also offered testimony from the Chief Engineer of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, which regulates gas and gas suppliers to the same effect that the fire was accidental in origin by means of leaking propane gas. The defendant-insurer’s defense of arson and fraud was sustained after a three-week jury trial. Claimed bad faith insurance company practice violations were also denied. Judgment was entered for the insurer on its counterclaim of arson and fraud as against the insureds in the amount of over $120,000.
Homeowner v. Insurance Company
Fall River Superior Court
This case involved the denial of a homeowner’s fire loss due to claimed arson and fraud. The plaintiff claimed breach of contract and c. 93A violations. The plaintiff-insured denied any responsibility for the loss. No criminal charge had ever been brought against the insured. The plaintiff-insured alleged that neighborhood youths had threatened her with setting the fire and that she had an alibi for the time of the fire’s occurrence. After a seven-day jury trial, a verdict and Judgment was entered for the defendant-insurer.
Homeowner v. Insurance Company
Springfield Superior Court
This case involved the challenge of a denial of a homeowner’s fire loss and claimed damages of over $200,000.00 including claimed c. 93A violations. An Examination Under Oath had been conducted of the insured and attempted of the plaintiff’s husband, but denied. The insured’s husband had been criminally charged with responsibility for the fire and found not guilty. On the defendant-insurer’s Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court entered Judgment for the defendant-insurer, finding that the insured had breached the policy by failing to satisfy policy conditions precedent requirements for suit, including submitting any dispute as to the amount of loss to reference within two years of the date of the loss and prior to suit.
Homeowner v. Insurance Company
Bristol Superior Court
This case involved the denial of a homeowner’s fire loss and claimed damages of over $300,000.00 including claimed c. 93A violations, due to a claimed arson fire and fraud. No criminal charge was ever presented against the insured. The plaintiff-insured testified that he was with other family members on a family outing at the time of the loss. Although not admitted into evidence, investigation showed that the insured and his family had earlier succeeded in recovery for several other suspicious fire and burglary losses with other insurers. After a ten-day jury trial, a verdict and Judgment was entered for the defendant-insurer on all counts. The insurer recovered Judgment against the insured for costs of the litigation.