A commercial property owner claimed damages to a strip mall as a result of Hurricane Isaac. U.S. Forensic expert, Mr. Bill Janowsky, P.E. testified as an expert witness for the defendant.
Excerpts from the Ruling – Case No. 730-422
“Rich Lyons, plaintiffs repair cost estimator, had a very different opinion on the total cost of repair. He concluded that Manhattan sustained damages of $421,592.81, which was based, however, entirely upon the opinions provided to him by Mr. Gurtler.
The Court is not persuaded by the testimony of the plaintiffs expert, Mr. Gurtler, because he did not do any independent investigation into the potential source of any leaks, did not speak with the plaintiff, did not verify the condition of the building prior to Hurricane Isaac, relied only on the thermal images and made far too many assumptions, including the assumption that the entire roof needs to be replaced, and that there is no cost effective way to locate and patch/replace specific areas of leaks if/when found. Mr. Gurtler’s methodology greatly undermines the reliability of his conclusions. Consequently, Mr. Lyons’ testimony, which is based upon Mr. Gurtler’s report, is also not persuasive.
By contrast, the Court finds the testimony of the defendant’s expert, Mr. Janowsky, to be credible. He studied the history and condition of the building as well as the weather in the area prior to Hurricane Isaac. He reviewed the previous damages reports on the building. He investigated every purported leak found by Mr. Gurtler, and found logical explanations as to why there was a leak at each of those places, with one exception. For the one exception that he concluded may have been caused by Hurricane Isaac, he testified the damage the area could be repaired for about 25% of the $2,500 to $3,000 range that had been estimated by Mr. Lyons. This amount is still below the deductible on the policy.”
“The Court concludes that plaintiff failed to carry its burden and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the damage caused by Hurricane Isaac covered by the Commercial Wind and Hail Endorsement provision of the insurance policy exceeds the applicable deductible. Thus, the Court finds in favor of the defendant.”
To access the full judgement, view the Trial Judgment – Hurricane Isaac Case.