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ADT wins case where plaintiff claims NFPA rules violated
March 29, 2021
ADT wins case where plaintiff claims NFPA rules violated
            An insurance company, suing under subrogation, sued ADT for water damage to a building.  Plaintiff’s claims are based on Defendant’s alleged negligence, carelessness, and recklessness in inspecting, testing, and servicing the fire suppression system at the property in violation of its duties pursuant to National Fire Protection Association standards.  Plaintiff’s argument was that violating NFPA constituted “negligence per se”, which means that the Court should find liability for negligence as a matter of law, not an issue of fact.
            ADT argued that the Complaint was devoid of any factual allegations that ADT violated any statute, ordinance, or regulation imposing upon ADT a duty to inspect, test, or service the system.  The Court noted that negligence and negligence per se were pleaded as two separate causes of action but negligence per se is an evidentiary doctrine—not a cause of action—that a plaintiff may use to establish a duty, as well as a breach of that duty, beyond the limited common law standards of care. The Court analyzed Plaintiff’s claims under the doctrine of negligence per se and held:
            “But the NFPA is not a governmental entity; it is “a global self-funded nonprofit organization . . . devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.” National Fire Protection Association, NFPA Overview, (last visited Mar. 11, 2021). Therefore, unless adopted as a statute, ordinance, or regulation, the standards of NFPA 25 cannot supplant the ordinary standard of care. See Cal. Evid. Code § 669 (extending the doctrine of negligence per se to statues, ordinances, or regulations adopted by public entities). Plaintiff tellingly cites no legal authority in which a court used NFPA provisions to set the relevant standard of care.”
            The Court also found that there was no duty of care owed beyond the contract between the parties and therefore causes of action in tort were not available. 
            The case may not be over since the dismissal was on technicality that the Plaintiff’s lawyer failed plead causes of action; the Court permitted an amended Complaint to be filed.
            Congrats to ADT for its knock-out punch.
            West American Ins v ADT USDC CA

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301