The Supreme Court of New Hampshire upheld a lower court decision against Factory Mutual Insurance Co. Wednesday and declined its bid to reimburse $ 4.5 million in damages to two students who started a dormitory at Dartmouth College.
Daniel Ro and Sebastian Lim were Dartmouth students in 2016 when they set up a charcoal grill on a platform outside a fourth-floor window in Mr. Lim's dormitory that started a fire that spread to the ceiling and caused water damage in the dormitory's four floors. Factory Mutual paid the college $ 4.5 million in damages, according to the unanimous decision of the New Hampshire Supreme Court Daniel Ro v Factory Mutual Insurance Co., as a subordinate of trustees of Dartmouth College and Sebastian Lim v Factory Mutual Insurance Co., as a subordinate of trustees at Dartmouth College.
The students had signed a receipt confirming a handbook stating that violations of an open fire policy "may" result in liability for damages as used by the fire and held students liable for claims arising from damage to university property, according to the decision.
Factory Mutual brought a subrogation claim against Mr Ro and Mr Lim to recover the amount paid.
The trial court granted Mr. Ro and Mr. Lim a summary judgment, as confirmed by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire.
"This appeal asks us to determine whether the anti-subrogation doctrine we adopted" in an earlier case ̵
The Court held that it does. "We note that in other circumstances, courts have found that the relationship between a university and its housing students is sufficiently similar to that of the landlord and the tenant to apply landlord / tenant-related teachings despite the absence of a technical landlord / tenant relationship," the decision states.
An insurance company for university dormitories "expects to pay reasonably for negligently caused fires and, in determining its premiums, takes into account that the insured property will be rented out to students", the decision states.
"The expectation of a reasonable college student is that his or her tuition and other payments to the college contribute to an amorphous" pot of money, "from which college expenses, including fire insurance, are paid," the judgment mentioned in an earlier case, confirming the lower court's Decisions
Matthew R. Passeri, now a lawyer at Crowley & McCarty PC in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, who had argued on behalf of Factory Mutual, said in a statement: "I am obviously disappointed with the Court's decision. In our opinion, the university policy placed effective responsibility for fire damage on students who break open fire in the residential hall.
“The court made a strict requirement that a rental agreement must explicitly stipulate that the tenant is not a coin insurance under the landlord's insurance or, in this case, that university insurance states that a housing student is not insured under the university's fire insurance.
“Insurers and risk managers who evaluate residential environments must be aware that fair protection such as tenants, students or other residents precludes assigning risks to these individuals absent very specific language opposite.
The students' lawyers did not respond to a request for comment or could not be reached. Catalog