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Insurers’ lawsuit over egg roll fire can proceed

Posted On: Apr. 13, 2017 2:43 PM CST

A FlightSafety International Inc. worker may have been acting within the scope of employment when he started a fire after falling asleep while frying egg rolls on the stovetop in his hotel room, says a federal court, in refusing to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the firm by the Lloyd’s of London underwriters who insured the hotel.

As insurers of Residence Inn Wichita East, Lloyd’s underwriters have sued both the employee, Cecil Foster, and New York-based FlightSafety in connection with the fire, which caused $147,000 in damage, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in Wichita, Kansas, in Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s et al. v. FlightSafety International et al.

The plaintiffs’ amended complaint stresses that Mr. Foster was on a business trip, that FlightSafety paid for the room and that the firm had an agreement with the hotel for discounted room rates, according to the opinion. The underwriters said that “there are a number of plausible scenarios wherein Defendant Foster could have been in the course and scope of his employment while cooking,” said the ruling.

“FlightSafety argues in its reply that the plaintiffs have failed to detail what those scenarios are, and that ‘Foster’s conduct in cooking, sleeping and doing both simultaneously’ should not be imputed to FlightSafety,” said the ruling. 

In refusing to dismiss the case, the U.S. District Court in Wichita said more information is needed.
“The complaint alleges that Foster is a resident of Oklahoma, but there is no evidence as to how long Foster stayed at the Residence Inn, whether he was required to stay at that location, the availability of other places to eat in the vicinity, his working hours, or his job duties,” said the ruling.

“It may ultimately be the case that Foster was indeed acting outside the scope of his employment at the time of the fire. But this determination should be made after a full opportunity to discover the facts surrounding the accident,” said the court, in denying FlightSafety’s motion to dismiss the case.