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Building Fire Leads to Lawsuit vs. Hubbell & Signify

2021 04 building fire moorestown nj opex philips hubbell.jpg

Above:  Stock photo from Pixabay

A 2017 building fire in New Jersey has led to a recent lawsuit filing versus Signify and Hubbell Lighting.

 

On April 8, 2017, a commercial building fire occurred in Moorestown, NJ – a Philadelphia suburb. According to reports, the fire was large enough that the fire department in neighboring Cinnaminson Township joined the Moorestown F.D. in fighting the blaze.

The commercial building was owned by Opex Corporation, a manufacturer of mailroom automation equipment. Liberty Mutual, the insurance company of Opex, alleges that the fire was caused by lighting products and that the manufacturers of those products should be held responsible for the $4.7M in damages.

The recent lawsuit, Liberty Mutual vs. Philips Lighting (a Signify Company) and Hubbell Lighting was filed in New Jersey Superior Court. The Plaintiff claims to have suffered damages in excess of $4.7M. As we explain below, the lawsuit lacks some pretty important details that will likely need to be explored during the discovery phase of the legal action.

What the Lawsuit Alleges:

  1. The fire originated from a light bulb and/or light fixture in the ceiling of the premises.
  2. The light bulb and/or light fixture that failed were manufactured, sold, installed, maintained and/or repaired by Philips Lighting and Hubbell Lighting.
  3. The Defendants caused a dangerous and unsafe condition to exist at the premises.
  4. Philips Lighting and Hubbell Lighting “did not provide adequate warnings, directions and/or instructions” with their products.

What the Lawsuit doesn’t state:

  1. Who determined that the cause of the fire related to the light fixtures or light bulbs? Liberty Mutual? The local fire inspector? (We’ve been trying to secure the report from the Moorestown Fire Department and have not yet received it.)
  2. What are the model numbers of the allegedly dangerous products? Was it a Philips lamp in a Hubbell luminaire?
  3. When were the products installed?
  4. Who installed the products?

Lots of questions remain in this one, and based on the records, it appears that Philips Lighting (Signify) has not yet been served with the summons. A $40+B insurance company like Liberty Mutual certainly knows how to handle legal matters like this one, so the vagueness of the complaint is likely an intentional strategy. We look forward to seeing how Liberty Mutual attempts to prove that one or both Defendants were indeed negligent.

When asked for comment, both Signify and Hubbell declined as they do not typically make statements about pending legal proceedings.

 

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April 1, 2021

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