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Michigan Court Of Appeals Overturns Trial Court And Rules For Michael F. Schmidt In Contractual Indemnity Case

In Empire Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v Minuteman International, Empire Fire filed suit as subrogee of General RV Center, Inc. to recover in excess of $5.5 million in damages as a result of a fire at the General RV Center, Inc. facility in Wixom, Michigan.  Empire Fire alleged that a floor scrubber manufactured by Minuteman International, Inc. caused the fire.  We represented Minuteman and filed a third party complaint against Lester Electrical, the manufacturer of a battery charger which was a component part of the floor scrubber, on the basis that the defect which the plaintiff alleged in the floor scrubber was in the battery charger.  The plaintiff’s complaint was eventually dismissed for a $12,000 settlement, and we then sought contractual indemnity for all of the defense costs and attorney fees incurred in defending the claim from Lester Electrical pursuant to an indemnity contract.  The trial court denied our motion for summary disposition and granted summary disposition to Lester Electrical.  In Empire Fire & Marine Insurance Co. as Subrogee of General RV Center, Inc. v Minuteman International, Inc., unpublished per curiam decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals docket number 274660 (2008), the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and ordered summary disposition in favor of Minuteman for full contractual indemnity from Lester Electrical.  The court held that the plaintiff did not have to make allegations against Lester Electrical in order for Minuteman to obtain contractual indemnity, because the evidence established factual support to enforce the contractual indemnity agreement.