Managing Partner Joseph Orlando prevails at Arbitration Forums in Allstate a/s/o George Young v. Woodbury Water & Sewer Dept.

The matter stemmed from a property damage action wherein the homeowner/plaintiff claimed that the defendant, Woodbury Water & Sewer Dept., was negligent in failing to properly install a water meter at the homeowner's residence. The crux of the allegations was that the defendant failed to place a washer within a pipe fitting which resulted in a water leak from that fitting. The homeowner claimed damages totaling approx. $15,000. Allstate paid its insured, the homeowner, for these damages and brought this subrogation claim for reimbursement. Both carriers submitted the matter to binding arbitration. The arbitrator concluded that the plaintiff failed to prove a prima facie case of negligence. The evidence revealed that the water meter was installed in 2000 by the defendant and the defendant had not performed any further work at the subject residence until after being notified of the water leak by the homeowner on September 12, 2010. Though there was a washer missing from the fitting, there was direct evidence that the homeowner had performed work on the water line a few months prior to the leak, ie., the homeowner had replaced the shut-off valve on the water line which was located a foot or so from the subject fitting. Defendant's retained construction expert opined that the photographs of the homeowner's basement reflected multiple incidents of water infiltration through the cement block foundation wall and that the amount of water that leaked through the pipe fitting would not have caused the damages claimed. The arbitrator concluded that plaintiff failed to establish that the absence of a washer in the pipe fitting installed 10 years prior was a proximate cause of plaintiff's alleged property damages.