Higgins Bros. v. Associated Services

Higgins Bros. v. Associated Services, 2012 L 12341
Verdict: Not Guilty
Trial Date: March 3-9, 2015

An extra-alarm fire occurred at the Higgins Brothers warehouse on the south side of Chicago just a few blocks west of U.S. Cellular Field, causing over $1 million dollars in damage. The day prior thereto, the Defendant performed welding repair in a paint spray booth at the warehouse. The Chicago Fire Department of Investigations and an independent cause and origin expert concluded that the fire began when a welding arc ignited combustible materials and dried paint overspray. The independent expert altered his opinion at trial to coincide with the CFD conclusion, testifying that the fire began near the paint spray booth as opposed to his finalized report which stated that the fire began within a plenum compartment area of the booth. Mr. Olson impeached the expert with his report and discovery deposition testimony to counter this altered opinion. Defendant presented no alternative ignition source, but argued that the Plaintiff was more at fault for having allowed paint overspray to accumulate for 20 years to the extent that it was up to five inches deep in some areas of the paint spray booth. Further, Defendant argued that the Plaintiff’s lack of any fire suppression system, such as smoke or fire alarms, combined with a sprinkler system that was not connected to a water source, rendered the Plaintiff more at fault. The jury deliberated over a period of two days, and returned a verdict fully in favor of Mr. Olson’s client.