A D.C. law firm specializing in national security cases moved a little away from its niche this week by filing a civil action against a company that allegedly sold it a new Porsche SUV that spontaneously caught fire.
Paleos & Krieger’s March 3 lawsuit accuses the Georgia-based Porsche Cars North America of breach of contract, breach of warranty, and negligence. The suit also accuses Wisconsin-based Ameriprise Home and Auto Insurance of breach of an insurance contract.
The complaint, filed by partner Roy Krieger, says the firm bought the SUV — a Porsche Cayanne S — from Porsche Cars North America in December 2003 and insured it with Ameriprise.
Krieger says on March 5, 2005, he parked the car outside a local bookstore. After reading for about two hours, he came out to find a fire truck sitting in the lot.
“I just hoped it wasn’t blocking me in,” he said.
When Krieger turned the corner, he found his car to be a wet “smoking hulk” with the interior blackened and all the windows smashed.
“I was quite startled and dismayed because, up to that point, the car had been running fine,” Krieger says. “At the end, it couldn’t even be towed. It had to be placed on a flatbed truck and driven away.”
According to the complaint, a forensic examination to determine the cause of the fire was apparently inconclusive.
It was bad enough the $60,000 car was totalled, Krieger says, but he also lost two custom suits and several dress shirts fresh from the drycleaners.
He is seeking monetary damages of more than $75,000 because the vehicle was under warranty and insurance coverage. He said he hasn’t received any payments.
“I’m over the shock of it now, it was a few years ago,” Krieger says. “But I haven’t gotten any money, and someone’s got to pay.”
Porsche Cars North America’s legal department had not received the complaint and was unable to comment. Ameriprise said it couldn't comment either because the case was pending.