Insurer in the Clear for Fire That Killed a Child

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A property manager cannot look to its insurer to indemnify it against a lawsuit rising from the ashes of an apartment fire that killed a child, a federal judge ruled.
     The court noted that the fire erupted from an electrical outlet in the four-unit building of 3113 Buena Vista Terrace, S.E., Washington, D.C., on Feb. 4, 2011.
     As the fire spread, three young children who lived in one of the units with their mother, Sheba Alexander, tried to flee but could not get through the rear door because it had been padlocked from the outside.
     The children then to tried reach the front door through the smoke and flames, but one of them didn’t make it. The other two who escaped required medical treatment.
     Alexander and her children had been homeless and their their housing was provided by the District of Columbia and the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness.
     With the family suing D.C., the partnership, the terrace and its property manager, Bailey Real Estate Holdings, Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co. filed a declaratory judgment action that said Bailey sought coverage falling outside of its insurance policies.
     Though Nationwide is defending Bailey and the property owner pursuant to one policy, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said Friday that its two other policies do not require it to defend or indemnify Bailey in the underlying suit.
     “A liability insurer such as Nationwide has no duty to defend a suit brought by a third party against its insured when the underlying complaint fails to bring the case within the coverage of the policy,” she wrote.

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