Don’t Get Tanked

CLM’s Subrogation Committee looked at the unique aspects of investigating large acrylic aquarium failure claims

November 14, 2017 Photo

CLM’s Subrogation Committee recently presented a webinar that looked at the unique aspects of investigating large acrylic aquarium failure claims, the adjustment of the first party claim, and the potential pursuit of subrogation.

12:00:00 p.m.


Dr. Paul Gramann, president of The Madison Group

Aaron Jacobs, attorney at Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP

12:02:14 p.m.

Aaron Jacobs
“There has been a steady increase in the popularity of large acrylic aquariums, due in part to television shows like “Tanked” on Animal Planet and “Fish Tank Kings” on Nat Geo. When failures occur in these tanks, the consequences can be quite significant in the way of property damages and business losses.”

12:02:56 p.m.

Aaron Jacobs
“When a large property loss occurs in this context, a subrogated recovery may be possible, but it will take an understanding of the manufacturing and installation process of the acrylic aquariums as well as identifying potential legal issues. Retaining subrogation counsel and a forensic consultant may be very helpful in developing and analyzing potential subrogation claims.”

12:07:58 p.m.

Dr. Paul Gramann
“Polymethyl methacrylate—a.k.a. acrylic or plexiglass—is clearer but not as brittle as glass, and smaller sections can be bonded together to make huge tanks…that weigh half that of glass. However, scratch resistance is low, and the assembly has to be very accurate…or else there will be residual stresses. Also, plastic moves over time, and chemical resistance isn’t as good as glass.”

12:12:00 p.m.

Dr. Paul Gramann
“We can’t force the panels into shape when putting it together. If we force it too much, then we will be building in stresses, and that is what can result in failure: forcing things together that aren’t supposed to be forced together.”

12:12:35 p.m.

Aaron Jacobs
“What happens when things go wrong? When it’s with an acrylic aquarium, it’s a lot of water. Usually a failure occurs at a seam where these acrylic panels are bonded together, and it spreads quickly and vertically. The potential is high for property damage and personal injury from fleeing.”

12:16:44 p.m.

Aaron Jacobs
“Due to the size of these losses, you’ll want to consider whether subrogation and recovery is possible against third parties. Also, many aquariums are located directly above the equipment that operates it. Keep that in mind since the damages can spread quickly to this area.”

12:31:55 p.m.

Aaron Jacobs
“Statutes of repose bar certain types of claims if a finite amount of time has passed since an improvement of real property was completed or from the date a certain product was manufactured.”

12:35:33 p.m.

Aaron Jacobs
“Post-loss evidence preservation and forensic failure analysis will be critical to your subrogation claims, and retention of proper experts is important. It often comes down to the fabrication, design, installation, and maintenance of the tanks when it comes to determining adverse liable parties.”


About The Authors
Eric Gilkey

Eric Gilkey is vice president of content at the CLM, and serves as executive editor of CLM magazine, the flagship publication of the CLM.

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