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INSURANCE LAW: Defendant’s Verdict for Owner in Defective Premises Claim

INSURANCE LAW: Defendant’s Verdict For Owner In Defective Premises Claim

Jackson O’Keefe, LLP partner, Philip R. Dunn, Jr., obtained a defendant’s verdict on May 19, 2016, in the Hartford Superior Court.  Attorney Dunn represented a gentleman who purchased a single family home for his uncle so that his cousin  and her five children could reside in the house.  There was a family history of purchasing property in this manner when family members could not obtain credit.  Attorney Dunn’s client never visited the house and simply passed the monthly mortgage payments from his uncle to the bank.  Once the uncle could obtain financing or the mortgage was paid off Attorney Dunn’s client would have transferred title to his uncle.

The evidence demonstrated that Attorney Dunn’s client was not asked to perform or pay for any maintenance.  Multiple renovations and upgrades were performed by the uncle and cousin over a six year period at their expense.

When the cousin remarried and departed the premises the uncle placed his ex-son-in-law in the house to live with a few of the children who were older and did not want to leave the house when their mother departed.  The ex-son-in-law immediately began arguing with the uncle over maintenance and the amount to be paid to cover the mortgage.  After being served with a notice to quit the ex-son-in-law claims he slipped and fell on a defective concrete step and filed suit against Attorney Dunn’s client.

Attorney Dunn successfully argued that his client may have held title to the house, but was not in possession and control.  There were also issues relative to notice of the defect and the plaintiff’s own comparative negligence.  The last settlement demand was $100,000.00.  There was never an offer to settle the case.

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