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Defense Verdict in First Party Property Case Involving a Roof Leak

Valerie A. Dondero and Nicole Lauren Wulwick | June 1, 2017

Valerie A. Dondero and Nicole Lauren Wulwick, of the Miami office, obtained a defense verdict on a property case involving a roof leak. This result was the first defense verdict using the carrier’s no peril created opening defense regarding the roof leak. In this case, the Plaintiff’s roof was repaired before the carrier was notified of the loss and the repairs had been made by a roofer who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a recent auto accident and could not testify at trial.

Based on the carrier’s expert testimony, Plaintiff’s counsel dismissed his “new roof replacement” claim and withdrew his roofing expert. However, he offered a well known architectural engineer, who testified on rebuttal that the Plaintiff’s roof was “sucked up” by a sudden windstorm and that there was a “local tropical storm” despite the fact that the wind speeds were calculated at 17 mph and Plaintiff’s expert never went up on the roof to check for wind damage.

Valerie and Nicole argued 27 Motions in Limine prior to trial andprevented Plaintiff’s counsel from presenting policy interpretation testimony, claims adjusting testimony, conditions precedent to  coverage testimony, and curtailed the Plaintiff’s rebuttal experts from testifying outside the scope of their untimely reports and deposition testimony. Plaintiff’s counsel even attempted to introduce a demonstrative roof shingle which was not on the exhibit list and was not even the correct type of shingle. The court struck the exhibit and the jury returned a complete defense verdict.

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