Sprinklers in Apartment

WSVN — Most office buildings and many apartments have sprinklers installed in case of a fire. So imagine waking up, the sprinklers are going off in your apartment and you are soaked. Now, who has to pay for the damage? It’s why one soggy South Florida man called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

We are all used to this in South Florida. Pouring rain, soaking lawns and flooded streets, and it’s nice to watch it from inside your home. However…

Danny D’Apuzzo: “So I woke up to the sound of a fire alarm going off. I popped out of bed to see what was going on in the apartment and when I looked out — it looked like an indoor hurricane was going on.”

Danny is not kidding. Look at the video taken in his living room…

Danny D’Apuzzo: “And it was dumping gallons and gallons, I found out 70 gallons of water a minute, and there was just mist everywhere.”

It may have appeared the roof had opened up … but it was the fire sprinklers that came on.

Danny D’Apuzzo: “There was so much water in this apartment, I really think I need to get scuba certified. It was inches and inches throughout the entire portion.”

Danny said the sprinklers sprayed for 10 minutes before they were cut off. And then a soggy Danny looked around.

Danny D’Apuzzo: “Everything soaked all the way to the drywall, on my TVs, my laptop, all my personal items, the couch, the counters, everything was soaked, It really was like a rainforest in here.”

Danny says he was told the apartment complex had changed some sprinklers in other units and was checking to see if the entire building now worked properly — they got their answer.

Danny D’Apuzzo: “This was the only apartment out of a 15-story building that had a sprinkler malfunction. One sprinkler. So I’m the unlucky guy.”

Fortunately, Danny had renters insurance. Unfortunately, it only covered up to $10,000 in damage and the cost to replace everything danny lost was $15,000.

Danny D’Apuzzo: “We are talking about $5,000 that I’m out of pocket now, including the rent is $5,000, and that is not a small piece of change.”

That’s right. While Danny lived with friends and family for the month it took to repair the apartment, he says the apartment complex made him pay rent for that month.

When he asked them to pay the $5,000 his insurance didn’t cover, he says they clammed up.

Howard Finkelstein, 7News Legal Expert: “They have apologized for the sprinkler head, but then they sent me to the claims department who is an imaginary person you can’t ever get on the phone. Who only contacted me via email, who is not responsive or receptive to all the damages.”

Well Howard you wake up to this. Legally, does you landlord have to cover the damage this soaking causes?

Howard Finkelstein: “There is a famous legal term that covers this, ‘Res Ipsa Loquitur’ and it means the thing speaks for itself. In other words, if your sprinkler goes off when your landlord is controlling it, the law presumes the landlord is negligent and they must pay — not only for the damage, but the months rent that they charged Danny while he was not living there.”

We first contacted the management company at Camden Las Olas. They told us they would look into this.

They then talked to Danny. He told us he could not discuss what he was paid because of the agreement they made, but he was very happy.

To us, that means he got the $5,000 he needed to finish replacing what was lost in the soaking.

Howard Finkelstein: “Danny’s renters insurance covered $10,000 of the damage. The landlord took care of the rest of the costs, but now legally, the renters insurance company could go after the landlord for the $10,000 they paid. It’s up to them.”

Danny can put this behind him. But he won’t forget those showers inside his apartment.

Danny D’Apuzzo: “It was a South Florida category 5 hurricane.”

Danny has a great way of putting things. Now he was lucky that his landlord chipped in to cover his losses and his renters insurance was also a big help.

Simply put, if you don’t have renters insurance, you might want to get it. It’s not expensive and make sure you get enough insurance to replace everything you have in your apartment.

Got the feeling the skies have opened up and pouring problems on you? Don’t let it dampen your enthusiasm cause. Contact us and hopefully Howard can sprinkle a little legal advice in there for you. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.

Email: helpmeHoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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