Home-Owners Insurance loses apparently frivolous bid to recover subrogated expenses
Home-Owners, a subsidiary of AutoOwners, was forced to pay its insured's claim for damages sustained to an Allendale building that suffered a fire. It sued the Brigade Fire Protection company, alleging that Brigade was negligent in the design, configuration and installation of a fire suppression/sprinkling system for the building. At trial, however, Brigade moved to dismiss Home-Owners' claim, alleging that Home-Owners had not raised a reasonable basis to conclude that Brigade was negligent. The Judge agreed and granted a directed verdict, finding that there was NO EVIDENCE to support Home-Owners' claim.
The insurer appealed, arguing that it should have been allowed to present the testimony of its expert witness before the Judge granted the directed verdict. The Court of Appeals noted that in order for Home-Owners to raise this argument on appeal, it needed to have provided the lower court with an offer of proof, demonstrating what the excluded evidence would have shown. Since Home-Owners did not meet this basic procedural requirement, the directed verdict was affirmed.