Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc

Duplex: Subrogating Landlord Tenant Property Losses

 Friday, May 28, 2021

 Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C.

In the 2003 Miramax comedy Duplex, Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore are Brooklyn landlords to a pesky, rent‑controlled tenant named Mrs. Connelly, played by Eileen Essell.

Efforts to get rid of Connelly fail and the tenant’s careless actions cause a fire which nearly destroys the entire building.

The fact that Ben Stiller’s insurance company had to pay for the property damage was a tedious and mundane fact not mentioned in the movie.

If art truly imitated life, the movie would have divulged the fact that under New York law, the insurance company paying the damages had a subrogated cause of action against the tenant for recovery of the damages it paid.

Surprisingly, however, the insurer would have no subrogation rights if the movie were set a few miles north in Connecticut, or in a number of other states where such a subrogation action against the tenant is prohibited.

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