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Timothy Mullin Obtains Dismissal By Way of Summary Judgment in Fire Loss Case

August 31, 2010

Timothy P. Mullin, Esquire a shareholder with Zarwin, Baum, secured the dismissal of large property damage claim which arose out a fire in a hair salon located in a strip mall.  Various experts opined that the fire originated in a dryer located in the hair salon.  Mr. Mullin’s client cleaned the dryer ducts and lint filter screen on the subject dryer. Mr. Mullin's motion for summary judgment was granted and the court held that Mr. Mullin’s client did not breach any duty of care it owed to the plaintiffs and its work was not the proximate cause of the fire.


The case was venued in The Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County.  Insurance carriers which insured some of the businesses located adjacent to the salon brought an action to recover for the property damage and loss of business their insureds allegedly sustained from the fire.  The salon itself also brought claims for property damage and loss of business.  The carrier which insured the owner of the building also asserted a claim for property damage. The claims were brought against the salon, the manufacturer of the dryer and a number of other entities, including Mr. Mullin’s client, who performed work on the subject dryer.  The total amount of damages that was claimed was in excess of $425,000.


Plaintiff’s cause and origin experts opined that the cause of the fire originated in a dryer located in the hair salon.  Some of the experts alleged that screws were missing from interior portions of the dryer and that this allowed lint and or other materials to enter an area near the burner compartment of the dryer.  The experts opined that these materials ignited and started the fire which caused the damages being alleged.


Mr. Mullin successfully showed the court that the scope of his client’s work could not have been the proximate cause of the fire.


The court agreed with Mr. Mullin’s arguments and held that Mr. Mullin’s client performed its duty to the salon and also held that the work performed by Mr. Mullin’s client could not have been the proximate cause of the fire.  The court granted M. Mullin’s summary judgment and dismissed all claims against his client with prejudice.

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