Damages for “irreplaceable” waste treatment plant

The defendant in Factory Mutual Insurance v. Alon USA stipulated to liability after an explosion at a waste treatment plant.  The remaining issue was whether fair market value of the plant was the cost to replace it (roughly $6 million) or the cost of the plant’s component parts (roughly $900,000).  No. 11-11080 (Jan. 23, 2013).  Under deferential clear error and abuse-of-discretion standards of review, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusions that: (1) the plant system was unique and the cost of its components did not fairly estimate its value (distinguishing Hartford Ins. Co. v. Jiminez, 814 S.W.2d 551 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 1991, no pet.)); (2) the plaintiff’s expert “educated and interviewed . . . employees” about a key depreciation issue, and thus “did more than just repeat information gleaned from external sources” (distinguishing U.S. v. Mejia, 545 F.3d 179 (2d Cir. 2008)); and (3) the multiplier used to reflect installation expenses was “entirely reasonable[,]” “[g]iven the lack of useful records and resources pertaining to this particular . . . plant.”

Recent Related Posts