United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE
subrogation action, Plaintiff Charter Oak Fire Insurance
Company (“Charter Oak”) filed a
Complaint against FSSI, Inc. (“FSSI”)
related to an insurance payment Charter Oak made for water
damage done to inventory (including clothing and accessories)
when a sprinkler cap in a warehouse's sprinkler system
malfunctioned (the “Incident”).
[Filing No. 1.] On April 5, 2019, Charter Oak filed
a Motion in Limine, which is ripe for consideration. For the
reasons set forth herein, the Court GRANTS IN
PART Charter Oak's motion.
following undisputed facts are taken from the Complaint,
[Filing No. 1], the Deposition Transcript of Kent
Crawmer, [Filing No. 70-1], and the Deposition
Transcript of Scott Scholl, [Filing No. 71-1].
Charter Oak is a licensed insurer that provided an insurance
policy to Fortna, Inc. (“Fortna”).
[Filing No. 1 at 1.] Fortna was hired by OHL/Geodis
to install a material handling system in a building housing
inventory in Plainfield, Indiana. [Filing No. 1 at
2.] Fortna contracted with FSSI to have FSSI complete a
portion of the installation-specifically, to install a
"20 level pick module expansion sprinkler."
[Filing No. 1 at 3.] In the agreement between Fortna
and FSSI, FSSI agreed to "indemnify, defend, and hold
Fortna harmless from and against all demands, claims, suits,
and expenses for personal injury, property damage, or
otherwise arising out of an alleged defect in the goods or
services, the breach of this Agreement, or from third-party
claims." [FilingNo. 1-3 at 2.]
January 13, 2016, FSSI was completing its portion of the
sprinkler system installation when a cap on the sprinkler
system "was dislodged," allowing water to stream
into the warehouse, which "caus[ed] extensive damage to
the OHL/Geodis premises" and to the inventory.
[Filing No. 1 at 3.] It is the parties'
understanding that the sprinkler cap became dislodged due to
a coupling coming apart (the "Coupling").
[Filing No. 70-1 at 26-27.] (A coupling is a metal
part used to join two pieces of pipe together, as shown
its insurance policy with Fortna, Charter Oak was obligated
to pay for the damage to the inventory. [Filing No. 1 at
3.] In this subrogation action, Charter Oak is seeking
reimbursement of $106, 823.98 from FSSI to recover for the
amount Charter Oak paid. [Filing No. 1 at 3.]
Charter Oak alleges that FSSI “was negligent and/or
breached the applicable standard of workmanship in its
operation causing the dislodgement of a sprinkler
head.” [Filing No. 1 at 3.]
Kent Crawmer's Testimony
Crawmer-FSSI's president and part-owner-examined the
Coupling and the portion of the sprinkler system near the
site of the Incident. [Filing No. 70-1 at 18;
Filing No. 70-1 at 21.] Mr. Crawmer took pictures of
the Coupling during his examination. [Filing No. 70-1 at
21.] The day after the Incident, Mr. Crawmer wrote a
letter to his contact at Fortna providing a summary of what
happened and his opinion of what may have caused the
Incident. [Filing No. 70-1 at 20; Filing No.
70-2.]. Mr. Crawmer wrote,
There is really only two reasons why a grooved coupling would
come off - either it wasn't tight or there was a part
failure. The part stayed together for well over an hour so I
would doubt that the tightening of it was an issue - usually
if this is the ...