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Parents condo burned down destroying my property

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adjusterjack

Senior Member
My parents and I are no longer on speaking terms and now they refuse to replace my stuff. What can I do about that?
Well, you've read the comments and the votes are tied 1 for and 1 against.

You decide.

As a matter of strategy I suggest completing, but not filing, a small claims complaint form and sending it to your parents with a written demand for payment of the money they collected for your items and a deadline to pay it, then sue them if they don't pay by the deadline. Don't bluff. Be prepared to follow through, win or lose.

Quite often a difference of opinion on the internet has nothing to do with the reality of small claims court.
 


magick.moon

Junior 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.
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.
I would like to clarify my original post. My property was kept there as a courtesy to me because it was located around 9 miles from 3 different ski resorts. I had a small vehicle and no ski rack at the time. It simply made sense to entrust my equipment with my parents at that location. They offered. My ski equipment was most certainly mine and not used by anyone else ever. I could have taken any and/or all of my equipment home at any point prior to the fire if I wanted to.
I have written the fire Marshall who investigated the fire about the liability of fault. Here's a link to an article about the fire I'm referring to. https://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/2015/05/post_188.html
From what I understand, the unit was built before sprinklers were required and it was grandfathered in to the insurance. It was a total loss for everybody.
Does this additional information change anything?
 

magick.moon

Junior 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.
I appreciate the response. I wanted to point out that I am a daughter not a son. I realize that doesn't matter either way. My parents were already made whole by their insurance. My property was included in the itemized list in their claim. Why don't you believe I have a valid unjust enrichment claim against my parents for being reimbursed for property?
 

magick.moon

Junior 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.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Great info. I appreciate it so much!
 

stealth2

Under the Radar Member
Perhaps I'm mistaken (I'm not as well-versed in insurance issues as the other posters), but wouldn't what OP is "owed" depend on what the insurance policy covers? I mean, whether it's replaced at current value of the used equipment or replaced at the value of similar quality new equipment...
 

magick.moon

Junior Member
Well, you've read the comments and the votes are tied 1 for and 1 against.

You decide.

As a matter of strategy I suggest completing, but not filing, a small claims complaint form and sending it to your parents with a written demand for payment of the money they collected for your items and a deadline to pay it, then sue them if they don't pay by the deadline. Don't bluff. Be prepared to follow through, win or lose.

Quite often a difference of opinion on the internet has nothing to do with the reality of small claims court.
Thank you so much. I really appreciate the time and energy you took discussing the different elements of this matter with other members and your specific, direct advice is invaluable to me. Thank you.
 
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magick.moon

Junior Member
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
Daughter. Lol ♀
 

adjusterjack

Senior Member
I have written the fire Marshall who investigated the fire about the liability of fault. Here's a link to an article about the fire I'm referring to. https://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/2015/05/post_188.html
From what I understand, the unit was built before sprinklers were required and it was grandfathered in to the insurance. It was a total loss for everybody.
Does this additional information change anything?
It sure does. That the fire happened almost 4 years ago evokes a Statute of Limitations which could prevent you from succeeding in any legal action.

I have reviewed the Oregon Statutes of Limitations Chapter 12 - Limitations of Actions and Suits:


And I believe (others will certainly tell me if I am wrong) that your issue is addressed by 12.110 since nothing else seems to come close:

(1) An action for assault, battery, false imprisonment, or for any injury to the person or rights of another, not arising on contract, and not especially enumerated in this chapter, shall be commenced within two years; provided, that in an action at law based upon fraud or deceit, the limitation shall be deemed to commence only from the discovery of the fraud or deceit.
Based on that statute you would have had two years from the time you asked for the money and were refused. If more than two years has passed then your lawsuit would be time barred.

Perhaps I'm mistaken (I'm not as well-versed in insurance issues as the other posters), but wouldn't what OP is "owed" depend on what the insurance policy covers? I mean, whether it's replaced at current value of the used equipment or replaced at the value of similar quality new equipment...
That's true, but Condo Unit Owners policies generally cover Replacement Cost on personal property. It's rare to see one that only covers Actual Cash Value. Condo policies are profitable to the insurance industry and many insurance companies throw in RC as a gimme or charge such a small amount that most people buy it. Even my former employer that wrote high risk properties had a reasonably priced RC option.

They paid for the policy that afforded them the benefits, including, as stated by yourself, the property of others in coverage B that you cited previously.
Which means that any money collected for the "property of others" is held in a "constructive trust" for the benefit of the "others."

Though now that the SOL has reared its ugly head, this discussion may have become moot.
 

adjusterjack

Senior Member
And you have yet to show any proof for your constructive trust or unjust enrichment arguments Jack.
And you have yet to show any proof that paying for the coverage entitles the insured to keep money belonging to "others."

I've given my opinion to the OP. She can take it for the two cents that it's worth or leave it. She can take your opinion for the two cents that it's worth or leave it.

Frankly, I find these incessant arguments between responders rather tiresome and I don't really care what your opinion is, wrong as it might be. I'm done. You have my permission to have the last word if you like.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I have to agree that, if any money is collected for the OP's destroyed property, then that money rightly belongs to the OP.
 

justalayman

Senior Member
And you have yet to show any proof that paying for the coverage entitles the insured to keep money belonging to "others."

I've given my opinion to the OP. She can take it for the two cents that it's worth or leave it. She can take your opinion for the two cents that it's worth or leave it.

Frankly, I find these incessant arguments between responders rather tiresome and I don't really care what your opinion is, wrong as it might be. I'm done. You have my permission to have the last word if you like.
You say I’m wrong but you have failed to provide any support for your argument unjust enrichment is valid. You’re generic list of case law on google scholar was worthless yet you seemed to take glory in posting it. When I asked you for specific case citation you refused.

Bottom line; unless op sues and wins, parents owe op nothing. Unless op has a valid cause of action and can support that argument, she loses. Parents don’t have to prove op is wrong. Op has to prove her argument is correct and so far nobody has provided her with anything that will do that. So, as it stands, op will lose if she sues no matter what you want to claim
 
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