Cooking squirrel with blowtorch just caused a tenant $2 million
by Marty Carlson
The boyfriend of a woman burned her apartment building down by trying to cook a squirrel with a blowtorch.
The woman who was the only person on the lease was originally held responsible for $15,400 in damages but the Court of Appeals has said she is responsible for the entire $2 million for the damage.
Barbara Pellow’s boyfriend Kehk Chanthalavong, had been using the blowtorch to remove for from the squirrel on a wooden deck. The owners maintained its cooking a squirrel on the deck had violated a rental agreement.
The incident has been now infamously dubbed the “fur burning escapade,” but because the defendant signed the lease agreement, the panel wrote, she is presumed to have read and understood its contents.
The torch had been left on the deck by the boyfriend and when he returned 15 minutes later the deck was on fire. He was unable to extinguish the fire and the entire apartment building was destroyed.
Dozens of people at the Clearview Apartments in Michigan lost everything in the fire. Travelers indemnity Company, the insurance carrier, paid out more than $2 million to repair the damage.
Fellow argued she was not responsible for damage and under the Michigan truth in renting act and the Michigan consumer protection act. But the Court of Appeals did not agree and stated it was a breach of contract lawsuit. And her contentions that details of the lease agreement were never explained to her does not hold water. Nowhere does a lot require that the landlord read and explain the lease agreement she signed, the justices wrote.