Insurer seeks damages for house fire allegedly caused by water cooler

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jul. 29, 2013, 12:09pm

GALVESTON - Alleging a February 2012 fire at the home of one of their policyholders was caused by a water dispensing unit, Atlas General Agency LLC has filed a lawsuit.

Recent court papers filed July 22 in Galveston County District Court blame Nestle Waters North America Inc. and LVD Acquisition LLC for the Feb. 13, 2012, incident at Ronald K. Scott's Texas City residence.

They explain that Scott and Nestle Waters, doing business as Ozarka Drinking Water Co., had a three-year-old agreement in which the former consented to purchase a minimum of four 5-gallon bottles of water per month at the time of the blaze.

The contract also called for the rental and installation of an electrical water dispensing unit made by Oasis, which was placed in the insured's breakfast room.

According to the suit, the aforementioned fire occurred shortly after Scott and his family left for a weeklong cruise.

A police officer responding to an alarm at the house discovered said fire in progress in the kitchen and summoned the Texas City Fire Department.

TCFD determined that the blaze began with the unit.

"Specifically, it was noted that the water cooler was plugged in; however, the cord was undamaged from approximately 1 foot from the wall, confirming that the water cooler was the source of the fire," the suit says.

"Because the water dispensing unit was defective, the dispenser malfunctioned, caught fire and spread to other parts of the Scotts' residence."

It adds the fire displaced the homeowners until repairs could be made, asserting their insurer compensated them.

Consequently, the plaintiff seeks no more than $200,000 in damages as well as a jury trial.

It is represented by attorney Wesley M. Hightower of Blaies & Hightower, L.L.P. in Fort Worth.

Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the litigation.

Case No. 13-CV-944

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