PARIS — A transportation and warehousing company has filed a second lawsuit related to a major fire in December, seeking damages from a local construction company and fire sprinkler company.

NEPW Logistics, as well as its insurer U.S. Fire Insurance Co., are suing Bancroft Contracting Corp. of Paris and High Tech Fire Protection of Poland. Both Bancroft and High Tech are charged with breach of contract and negligence. In addition, NEPW accuses Bancroft of breach of indemnification covenant and seeks declaratory relief related to that issue.

In December, a fire broke out at the railroad loading dock in NEPW’s 233,000-square-foot warehouse on Pine Street in Paris. The blaze was not contained until three days later, and 53 fire departments assisted with suppression efforts.

According to the lawsuit, the fire caused over $5 million in losses to pulp and paper products stored in the building, and destroyed about 10,000 tons of paper material. In addition, NEPW says repair costs exceeded $4 million and that the company incurred over $1 million in additional expenses due to the interruption of business.

NEPW is asking that the Oxford County Superior Court award compensatory damages against Bancroft and High Tech equal to the amount of damage caused in the fire; have Bancroft pay expenses incurred by fire departments, including $46,000 by the Paris Fire Department; and indemnify NEPW against all claims arising from the fire.

In September of 2008, NEPW and Bancroft entered into a $79,000 contract to have Bancroft rebuild a section of the warehouse roof that had collapsed due to the weight of snow. The contract includes articles indemnifying NEPW from claims arising out of Bancroft’s work as well as a warranty against work deficiencies.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office determined that slag from welding work being done on the roof ignited bales of shredded paper being stored in the warehouse.

NEPW accuses Bancroft of violating industry standards by failing to keep a fire watch or move welding blankets placed over the flammable materials when it moved its operations to a different area.

The suit states that High Tech contracted with NEPW to install, inspect and repair the fire suppression systems in the building for at least 10 years. NEPW holds High Tech liable for damages that occurred as a result of any failure of the company to service the system or identify dangerous conditions or defects in the system.
NEPW states that Bancroft had a $2 million commercial general liability policy and $9 million excess liability policy through Travelers Indemnity Co. NEPW says Bancroft has not responded to their requests for indemnification from customer claims, and Travelers has also not indemnified the company.

NEPW says the lack of indemnification has harmed its relationship with customers seeking compensation for lost product, and forced the company to salvage damaged product to mitigate claims. It asks that the court enforce indemnification and hold NEPW faultless in any claims against it.

Recently, NEPW also filed suit against Travelers, the insurance company Crum & Forster, and North River Insurance Co., which is an affiliate in the case. In that case, NEPW asks that the insurance companies cooperate to adjust and pay the claims of its customers and reserve any issues over which company is the primary insurer for a later date.
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