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Rooftop grill sparks Mission Hill lawsuit

Lloyd's of London has sued the owner of a Mission Hill apartment building over a 2014 fire, apparently caused by a rooftop barbecue, to recover the money it had to pay out to the owners of a neighboring building.

In a lawsuit filed this week in US District Court in Boston, Lloyd's said it paid $79,434.70 to the owners of 25 Wigglesworth for damage from what turned into a two-alarm fire on June 30.

Lloyd's says the landlord was negligent in:

a. causing or allowing grills to be used in an unsafe manner;
b. allowing use of grills on its rooftop deck;
c. failing to ensure that fire extinguishers or other suppression means were accessible to tenants in case of a fire; and/or
d. otherwise causing or allowing an uncontrolled fire to occur.

The insurer is seeking reimbursement for its payments, plus interests, costs and attorneys' fees.

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Comments

My favorite street name in all of Boston.

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It's such a cute street, too. I love how it's surrounded by taller buildings.

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Ridiculous. I'm sure that buried somewhere in Boston codes you're not supposed to use a grill on a deck or roof-deck, but that (to me) is absurd that the insurance company would try to ruin their own customer. They weren't intentionally trying to cause the fire--it was an ACCIDENT. It's reasons like this that make people hate insurance companies. Something terrible happens and they find a loophole to try and deny claim.

What's next? Someone gets hurt in a car accident and the insurer denies coverage, claiming the tires were a bit below recommended levels?

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I am certainly no fan of insurance companies and they will try all sorts of dirty tricks to get out of paying legitimate claims to policy holders, but having a grill on a roof deck is very much illegal in the state of MA. They have been banned to try to stop fires such as the one in this incident.

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/05/08/rooftop-grilling-bost...

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The prohibition isn't "buried in the code". Both the state and the city have prohibitions against dangerous locations of grills, on balconies, covered porches, and rooftops, and anywhere above the first floor.. It's well known, especially by property owners.

And the insurance company isn't "hurting their own customer". They paid their customer, the owner of the adjacent building, and now are looking for compensation from the owner of the building where the code violation occurred and where the fire started.

I disagree that its an accident. Regardless of the code, using a fire in this manner is just plain dangerous, and not smart. The property owner should have known, or did know.

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The code is not buried anywhere and is well known among any reasonable person that owns or rents in the city. The use of grills on decks and roofs is extremely dangerous and I have no sympathy for the building owner, they are just lucky that no one died.

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Bro, glad you don't live in my building! Wouldn't want a entitled and selfish person like you putting my life or any of my neighbors' lives at risk just because you want chug a few Bud Lites and grill a greasy burger on the roof deck. Dude, duh, accidents happen! Seen too many fires in my neighborhood to take things like this lightly. Move to the 'burbs and into your own house if you don't give a fuck about fire codes which were put in place for a reason.

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Whereas I agree with you about insurance companies, this one isn't suing their customer; they're suing a neighbor of their customer because they claim the neighbor acted negligently. Insurance companies paying out to a policyholder then suing the actual negligent party is standard operating procedure for insurance.

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No need to get angry at the person giving his/her opinion that insurance is there for accidents - obv., insurance IS there for accidents. I think in this case, though, the insurance company is suing the owner of the other building (or, his/her insurance company) to receive reimbursement for costs incurred.

Bottom line is, landlords need to ensure their leases state that no grilling - at all - is allowed on roof decks / back decks, regardless of what the city / state regulations allow / don't allow. The city and state, from what I remember, have different rules regarding grilling (gas / electric / charcoal) so to be sure nothing bad happens, landlords must have it written into the leases. That way, at least, they can claim they at least made the effort to ensure they tried to keep tenants from being stupid.

If you are renting / buying a place in Boston and your real estate agent says, "I'm sure you could grill up here," either say, "I highly doubt it," or, say, "Okay," then sue them when you end up almost burning the whole place down.

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The law is no grills. It's in all my leases - no grills, no smoking in apartment, no candles - and yet my tenants lit my deck on fire 3x (all cigarettes). Can't fix stupid. So that's why you make your tenants get apartment insurance so when they do something stupid and or against the lease / law - your insurance can sue their insurance.
Fortunately my tenants since then have been a dream.

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So blame the realtor ? Grills are illegal. If the realtor was mis informed it doesn't excuse the criminal behavior.

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In NH, the real estate courses very explicitly teach agents to answer any questions from clients that sound like they require a legal opinion to tell the client, I'm not a lawyer, contact an attorney about that. RE rules vary from state to state but rules on stuff like this are fairly uniform, so I'm sure it's the same in MA.

This frequently comes up if a client asks about stuff like zoning/planning regs (e.g., "Can I rent out the second floor to a tenant?", "Can I have roommates in this place?") or other city ordinance stuff, the language in the deed, the property boundaries, the meaning of clauses in the purchase and sales contract, and so on, and it would be the appropriate response to someone asking if they can use a grille in/on/around the structure. An agent giving someone a legal opinion that turns out to be incorrect could not only incur liability in the lawsuit sense, but could also get in trouble with the real estate commission for "unauthorized practice of law" / "practice of law without a license."

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