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Defective Alarm System

NEGLIGENT ASSEMBLY OR INSTALLATION Gross Negligence Breach of Contract Breach of Warranty Pet store’s owner alleged alarm failed, allowed theft of parrots
Settlement:   $15,000 Case Island Animals Ltd. d/b/a Parrots of the World v. Marlarm Security Systems Inc., No. 4881/08
Case #:   XXVI/17-18
Date:   Thursday, August 07, 2008
Court:   Nassau Supreme
Plaintiff Attorney:   Anthony T. Ballato, Massapequa, NY
Facts:   On Aug. 14, 2007, plaintiff Island Animals Ltd. learned that a burglary had occurred at its Parrots of the World retail pet store, which is located at 316 Sunrise Highway, in Rockville Centre. At that time, Island Animals had a contract with Marlarm Security Systems Inc., in which Marlarm agreed to service and monitor the store's alarm system. The alarm did not send out an alarm, and the burglar stole valuable parrots.

Island Animals sued Marlarm Security Systems. It alleged that the alarm system was not properly installed, that the improper installation constituted gross negligence, and that the system’s failure constituted breach of contract and breach of warranty.

Plaintiff’s counsel claimed that Marlarm failed to properly install the alarm system, causing the alarm to fail when the burglar broke a plate- glass window. Island Animals’ owner contended that the alarm had not worked since the day it was installed.
Defense counsel contended that several exclusionary clauses contained in the parties' contract for the alarm installation and monitoring applied to Island Animals' claims. Defense counsel also contended that such exculpatory clauses should be upheld for claims of negligence, but that they should not be upheld for gross negligence. He moved for summary judgment, but Judge Kenneth Davis opined that plaintiff’s counsel raised sufficient questions of fact to warrant further discovery and depositions.

Injuries/Damages Island Animals claimed that it sustained monetary damages as a result of the alarm's failure to sound during the burglary. It filed a claim with its insurer for $62,530 for property loss due to the burglary. The insurer initially denied the claim because the policy included a clause that a working alarm must be in place, but it ultimately paid $36, 745. Island Animals sought recovery of the remaining $25,785 and other expenses.

Result The parties negotiated a $15,000 pretrial settlement.

Insurer(s) First Mercury Insurance Co.
Editor's Note This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's and defense counsel.
Nancy Deluca

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