Suit by Adjoining Landowner for Fire Damage Fails

MAIN STREET MARKET, LLC, ET AL. v. EMILY V. WEINBERG
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

William L. Hendricks, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Gilbert Lawrence Callaway and Rebecca Duncan Callaway.

Stephen R. Leffler, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Main Street Market, LLC.

Judge: FARMER

This dispute arises from a fire that destroyed six adjoining buildings in 1997. The buildings were located along a single city block, running north to south, in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Defendant owned the second building, sandwiched between one building to the north, owned by one of the Plaintiffs, and the four remaining buildings to the south, owned by the other Plaintiff. Approximately one month before the fire, a substantial portion of the second and third buildings collapsed, damaging all six buildings, and compromising the structural integrity of each building. Due to safety concerns, the parties were ordered not to enter the buildings and were required to ensure that their buildings were inaccessible to the public. The parties complied with the orders. Shortly thereafter, a trespasser entered the Defendant’s building and started a fire which spread to each of the adjoining buildings resulting in substantial damage. Plaintiffs filed negligence actions against the Defendant and argued that she was liable to them for their property damage caused by the criminal acts of the trespasser. Following a trial, the trial court entered a directed verdict in favor of the Defendant based on its conclusion that the Plaintiffs failed to establish any of the requisite elements of their negligence claims. After throughly reviewing the record, we affirm.

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