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Sprinkler company cleared of causing building’s burst pipe

Scott Lauck//November 16, 2023//

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Sprinkler company cleared of causing building’s burst pipe

Scott Lauck//November 16, 2023//

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A St. Louis County jury found a sprinkler company not liable for flooding that damaged an apartment complex.

The burst sprinkler pipe at the Union Club 770 building damaged 15 units and common areas on Feb. 14, 2020. An insurer for the building alleged Boyer Fire Protection had left water in the dry sprinkler system after testing the system the previous July. The plaintiff claimed that costs to repair the building were more than $1.5 million.

Boyer, represented by a team of lawyers from Pitzer Snodgrass, brought in experts to argue that the water in the dry sprinkler system was caused by built-up condensation and that the building owner’s failure to drain the condensation violated National Fire Protection Association standards and St. Louis ordinances.

After a four-day trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant. No appeal was filed.

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Defense verdict

Property Damage

Venue: St. Louis County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 21SL-CC00531/Aug. 31, 2023

Judge: Stanley Wallach

Last Pretrial Demand: $900,000

Last Pretrial Offer: $125,000

Plaintiffs’ Experts: Nicholas Nava, Exponent, Bowie, Maryland (engineering); Daniel Sovar, Semke, St. Charles (engineering)

Defendant’s Expert: Kim Mniszewski, FX Engineering, LaGrange, Illinois (engineering); Daniel Hogan, MC Consultants, New York (forensic architect)

Caption: American Family Mutual Insurance Company a/a/o Union Club 770 LLC v. Boyer Fire Protection LLC

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Emilie Kaplan and Stephen Thompson, Thompson Brody & Kaplan, Chicago, Illinois

Defendant’s Attorneys: Gary Snodgrass, Nicholas Meriage and Andrew Corkery, Pitzer Snodgrass, St. Louis

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