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Parents condo burned down destroying my property

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magick.moon

Junior Member
What is the name of your state? Oregon
My parents had a ski condo in the mountains. All of my ski equipment was there on a permanent basis to save me from lugging it back and forth into town. The entire 29 unit condominium burned to the ground destroying everything. They had all the appropriate insurance. All of my items were included in the list submitted to the insurance company and they have since been paid out. My parents and I are no longer on speaking terms and now they refuse to replace my stuff. What can I do about that?
 


justalayman

Senior Member
Unless they were negligent and caused the fire, they have no obligation to you to reimburse you for your property

That doesn’t chamge the fact they recieved payment from their insurance company for your property. So, contact their insurance company and inform them you believe payment was made to your parents for your property. If they are concerned they will seek a refund of those payments made to your parents.
 

xylene

Senior Member
You are not owed for replacement.

Your parents have been paid for the value of your equipment. You are owed, by them, that money.

Yes you may sue them.
 

FlyingRon

Senior Member
Nope, Justa is right. Unless the parents caused the fire with gross negligence or the property was entrusted in some way that created a bailment (which this doesn't sound like it), they're not obliged to give you anything for it, EVEN if they managed to convince the insurer to pay out.
 

xylene

Senior Member
Nope, Justa is right. Unless the parents caused the fire with gross negligence or the property was entrusted in some way that created a bailment (which this doesn't sound like it), they're not obliged to give you anything for it, EVEN if they managed to convince the insurer to pay out.
The insurance company agreed there was a bailment covered by the insurance - or else the parents lied about the ski gear being their property.

What is your reasoning why the parents can keep the value of the ski gear?
Could they have sold it and kept the proceeds? No, obviously not)

Are you arguing the parents are being improperly benefited by the destruction of the property of another and should not have been paid for this ski gear? The question of negligence is immaterial, the claim for the property has been paid. I don't think there is anything remotely suggesting the gear is in some way causal to the fire.
 

adjusterjack

Senior Member
The insurance company agreed there was a bailment covered by the insurance
Bailment is not an issue. If anything it was a bailment for the sole benefit of the bailor (the OP) and required only ordinary care by the bailee (parents). The fire that destroyed 29 condos was way beyond their control.

or else the parents lied about the ski gear being their property.
My experience as a claim rep suggests that the parents submitted the inventory of damaged items without distinguishing those that belonged to the OP. From a coverage standpoint it wouldn't have mattered because the insuring agreement for personal property on a Condo Unit Owners Policy (HO 6) is thus:

COVERAGE B - PERSONAL PROPERTY
1. Property Covered. We cover personal property owned
or used by an insured while it is anywhere in the world.
This includes structures not permanently attached to or
otherwise forming a part of the realty. At your request, we
will cover personal property owned by others while the
property is on the part of the residence premises occupied
exclusively by an insured.
The OP's property would have been covered whether listed separately or not but the check would have been made out to the Named Insured.

they're not obliged to give you anything for it, EVEN if they managed to convince the insurer to pay out.
I disagree. The parents got money for items they did not own. That's "unjust enrichment" and I believe that the OP has good cause to sue for that money.

You are not owed for replacement.
Your parents have been paid for the value of your equipment. You are owed, by them, that money.
Yes you may sue them.
Agree there, with one caveat. The HO-6 likely covered personal property for its Replacement Cost so the OP would be due the cost to replace the items lost in the fire.

I'm wondering if the OP has his own homeowners or renters insurance. His personal property would be covered anywhere. He could, theoretically, make a claim for it under his own policy.
 

justalayman

Senior Member
The insurance company agreed there was a bailment covered by the insurance - or else the parents lied about the ski gear being their property.

What is your reasoning why the parents can keep the value of the ski gear?
Could they have sold it and kept the proceeds? No, obviously not)

Are you arguing the parents are being improperly benefited by the destruction of the property of another and should not have been paid for this ski gear? The question of negligence is immaterial, the claim for the property has been paid. I don't think there is anything remotely suggesting the gear is in some way causality to the fire.
It’s not up to the insurance company to determine if there was a bailment. They likely had no idea I’d there was or wasn’t. They simply paid on the items claimed.

But

Even if there was a bailment, it is likely a gratuitous bailment. Parents would have very limited duty to son and as long as they didn’t cause damage, they still wouldn’t be liable to op
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Bailment is not an issue. If anything it was a bailment for the sole benefit of the bailor (the OP) and required only ordinary care by the bailee (parents). The fire that destroyed 29 condos was way beyond their control.



My experience as a claim rep suggests that the parents submitted the inventory of damaged items without distinguishing those that belonged to the OP. From a coverage standpoint it wouldn't have mattered because the insuring agreement for personal property on a Condo Unit Owners Policy (HO 6) is thus:



The OP's property would have been covered whether listed separately or not but the check would have been made out to the Named Insured.



I disagree. The parents got money for items they did not own. That's "unjust enrichment" and I believe that the OP has good cause to sue for that money.



Agree there, with one caveat. The HO-6 likely covered personal property for its Replacement Cost so the OP would be due the cost to replace the items lost in the fire.

I'm wondering if the OP has his own homeowners or renters insurance. His personal property would be covered anywhere. He could, theoretically, make a claim for it under his own policy.
I was also thinking along the lines of "unjust enrichment"...

Of course, if OP makes a claim under his own homeowners or renters insurance, that opens another kettle of fish. But hey, OP's parents aren't talking to him anyhow...
 

justalayman

Senior Member
Unjust enrichment doesn’t apply in situsitons such as this. Arguing that anybody that experiences a loss and can make a claim against the beneficiary of an insurance policy they purchased themselves is silly.

The fact the parents purchased the policy to pay them in a given situation removes the claim of unjust enrichment.

This layman’s definition supports my argument



Unjust enrichment means when a person unfairly gets a benefit by chance, mistake or another's misfortune for which the one enriched has not paid or worked and morally and ethically should not keep. A person who has been unjustly enriched at the expense of another must legally return the unfairly kept money or benefits.
The parents have paid for the right to receive the benefit of payment for all property covered under the policy.

From that same site:


Five elements must be established to prove unjust enrichment:

1.An enrichment;

2.An impoverishment;

3.A connection between the enrichment and the impoverishment;

4.Absence of a justification for the enrichment and impoverishment; and

5.An absence of a remedy provided by law.
Number 4 doesn’t apply. There is a justification for the enrichment. Parents purchased an insurance policy.


The parents have paid for the benefit of receiving the insurance payment. It is not a simple matter of a windfall benefit at the expense of the son.
 

adjusterjack

Senior Member

adjusterjack

Senior Member
Unjust enrichment doesn’t apply in situsitons such as this.
Yes it does.

Arguing that anybody that experiences a loss and can make a claim against the beneficiary of an insurance policy they purchased themselves is silly.
Then there are an awful lot of silly judges in the Oregon appellate and supreme courts because there are a lot of case decisions about insurance proceeds that were ruled to be held in trust for other than the initial recipients of the proceeds:


Unjust enrichment means when a person unfairly gets a benefit by chance, mistake or another's misfortune for which the one enriched has not paid or worked and morally and ethically should not keep. A person who has been unjustly enriched at the expense of another must legally return the unfairly kept money or benefits.
That's exactly the definition that applies to the OP's situation.

Let's talk dollars. For example, the parents' personal property loss is $50,000. The OP's loss is $5000. The policy covers the Named Insured's (parents) property and (as I quoted earlier) property of others, meaning property that does not belong to the Named Insureds.

Yes, they paid for the policy. But any payment received towards property they don't own creates a "constructive trust" requiring that payment to be conveyed to the owner of the property.

You list 5 elements necessary for a claim of unjust enrichment:

1.An enrichment; Parents have been enriched by $5000 for property they don't own.

2.An impoverishment; OP has been impoverished by $5000 that belongs to him.

3.A connection between the enrichment and the impoverishment; $5000

4.Absence of a justification for the enrichment and impoverishment; Paying for the policy is not justification.

5.An absence of a remedy provided by law.

Other sites list only 3: (1) that the defendant was enriched; (2) that the plaintiff suffered a corresponding deprivation; and (3) the absence of a juristic reason for the enrichment.

But I'll let that slide and address your number 5, which gives me pause while I consider whether there are any other remedies provided by law.

Breach of contract - No, none that I can divine.
Breach of bailment - No, already covered. The loss of the property was beyond the control of the parents.
Theft - ORS 164.0115 - A person commits theft when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate property to the person or to a third person, the person: (1) Takes, appropriates, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.

There are varying degrees of theft defined in the Oregon statutes but I seriously doubt that criminal prosecution is going to happen. However, theft is also a tort for which the OP can sue.

So it does appear that number 5 is not fulfilled if OP has a cause of action based on the tort of theft. But, on the chance that it's not going to be successful, he would be wise to sue for both theft and unjust enrichment and let the court decide.

Bottom line: There's no doubt that the parents are wrongfully keeping the money they got for his destroyed ski equipment and I think they will hand it over the moment they are served with a summons and complaint to small claims court.
 

justalayman

Senior Member
Yes it does.



Then there are an awful lot of silly judges in the Oregon appellate and supreme courts because there are a lot of case decisions about insurance proceeds that were ruled to be held in trust for other than the initial recipients of the proceeds:




That's exactly the definition that applies to the OP's situation.

Let's talk dollars. For example, the parents' personal property loss is $50,000. The OP's loss is $5000. The policy covers the Named Insured's (parents) property and (as I quoted earlier) property of others, meaning property that does not belong to the Named Insureds.

Yes, they paid for the policy. But any payment received towards property they don't own creates a "constructive trust" requiring that payment to be conveyed to the owner of the property.

You list 5 elements necessary for a claim of unjust enrichment:

1.An enrichment; Parents have been enriched by $5000 for property they don't own.

2.An impoverishment; OP has been impoverished by $5000 that belongs to him.

3.A connection between the enrichment and the impoverishment; $5000

4.Absence of a justification for the enrichment and impoverishment; Paying for the policy is not justification.

5.An absence of a remedy provided by law.

Other sites list only 3: (1) that the defendant was enriched; (2) that the plaintiff suffered a corresponding deprivation; and (3) the absence of a juristic reason for the enrichment.

But I'll let that slide and address your number 5, which gives me pause while I consider whether there are any other remedies provided by law.

Breach of contract - No, none that I can divine.
Breach of bailment - No, already covered. The loss of the property was beyond the control of the parents.
Theft - ORS 164.0115 - A person commits theft when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate property to the person or to a third person, the person: (1) Takes, appropriates, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.

There are varying degrees of theft defined in the Oregon statutes but I seriously doubt that criminal prosecution is going to happen. However, theft is also a tort for which the OP can sue.

So it does appear that number 5 is not fulfilled if OP has a cause of action based on the tort of theft. But, on the chance that it's not going to be successful, he would be wise to sue for both theft and unjust enrichment and let the court decide.

Bottom line: There's no doubt that the parents are wrongfully keeping the money they got for his destroyed ski equipment and I think they will hand it over the moment they are served with a summons and complaint to small claims court.
You need to post a case or two that is on point. I read 5 on the link and none applied to this set of facts.

Find a couple you believe actually apply and link those.


And there is nothing criminal involved here. If anything it is a civil case and I still disagree with your claim of unjust enrichment.


And to this


Unjust enrichment means when a person unfairly gets a benefit by chance, mistake or another's misfortune for which the one enriched has not paid or worked and morally and ethically should not keep. A person who has been unjustly enriched at the expense of another must legally return the unfairly kept money or benefits.


The parents paid for the policy. That makes them have a valid claim to the benefits paid.


The sons claim is against whomever cause the loss. If nobody caused the loss, then they simply lose out unless they have insurance.
 
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FlyingRon

Senior Member
There's no contract between the poster and his parents, there's no avenue for an unjust enrichment claim. Perhaps the insurer might have a claim, but even that's a stretch. The parents have no duty to the son in the case of an accidental fire no matter how big their insurance payout is.
 
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