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Mobil Oil’s Records Destroyed in Facility Fire
Case: Mobil Oil Corporation v. Grinnell Corporation and Diversified Information Technologies Inc., No. 190-C-1999; 2953-C-1999 Date: 01-17-2003
A fire engulfed Diversified Information Technologies Inc.’s document storage facility in West Patterson, Pa. destroying 800,000 boxes of corporate records. Plaintiff Mobil Oil Corp. claimed that part of the sprinkler system in the facility was on and part of it was off. Mobil Oil contended that Grinnell Corp. of Exeter, N.H., had designed and installed the sprinkler system. Mobile Oil claimed that the sprinkler system did not emit enough water to put out a fire, emitted water too slowly to put out a fire and was improperly configured.
Mobil Oil sued Diversified and Grinnell, alleging that both were negligent in failing to have the system fully functioning and sued Grinnell for products liability, alleging that it followed the wrong NFPA standard and, accordingly, defectively designed the system.
The jury found both Grinnell and Diversified negligent. It found that Grinnell’s sprinkler system was a defective product and awarded Mobil $20,750,653 in damages. The jury decided that the sprinkler was defective in that in did not emit enough water to put out a fire, emitted water too slowly to put out a fire and was improperly configured. On the negligence claim Grinnell was found 40% liable and Diversified was found 60%. The jury amount included $8,981,441 for the value of the 67,000 boxes of Mobil’s documents destroyed in the fire as well as $7,406,558 for lost tax deductions and $1,347,654 for lost UST remediation reimbursements because supporting documentation was destroyed in the fire. The jury also awarded $3,015,000 for a marine technical library and ship drawings that were destroyed in the fire.