On October 12, 2020, CEE Legal Matters reported that Triniti Jurex had advised Restaurant Group Fortas in a dispute with an unnamed insurance company. CEEIHM spoke with Valdas Merzvinskas, General Manager at the Restaurant Group Fortas, to learn more about this matter.
CEEIHM: Tell us about Restaurant Group Fortas
Valdas: Fortas is one of the largest restaurant chains in Lithuania. We are in the market for more than 20 years already. We opened our first restaurant in Vilnius in Algirdas street back in 1996, and I am very glad it is still there and still popular. At the moment we have 13 restaurants and around 300 employees.
CEEIHM: What was the main claim of the insurance company in the dispute and how did you defend against it?
Valdas: An accident happened in one of our restaurants located in the entertainment and business center in Vilnius. The cold-water hose of the tap broke at night and water flooded both the rented restaurant and other premises of this center. The owner of the building had insured the business center and the property in it with property insurance. After the flood, the insurance company indemnified the owner for the losses, the sum was quite impressive. At the same time, they filed a recourse claim against us as the responsible party for the damage.
Our defense covered several aspects. As the owner of the building was also our landlord, the provisions in the lease agreement regarding the limits of the maintenance of the engineering systems were essential. Also, two forensic examinations were carried out to confirm the version that the rupture of the pipe was caused by an increase in water pressure at night, we couldn’t control those circumstances.
The case also involved an administration company, to whom both we and the owner of the building had entrusted the maintenance of the engineering systems. We also raised a version that it was this company that might have performed its duties incorrectly and should be held accountable.
CEEIHM: What was the final outcome and what were the winning arguments in your view?
Valdas: Both the first-instance and appellate courts dismissed the claim entirely. I believe we achieved the victory due to a comprehensive defense strategy. When the court disagreed with one of the arguments, our law firm Triniti Jurex prepared several additional blocks in parallel to defend us from the claim. A great deal of work was done to deny the amount of damages, but fortunately this was not necessary because the court did not recognize our liability for damages at all.
CEEIHM: How did the process of the dispute pan out from your end? At what point did you involve Triniti Jurex and how did you prepare for the proceedings?
Valdas: The dispute ended in the most favorable way possible, we are very happy about that. We contacted Triniti Jurex immediately after receiving the claim from the insurance company. Triniti Jurex did all the work: preparing a defense strategy and leading the process. We followed the instructions given to us by our attorney Agne Varneliene, provided the requested documents when necessary, and went to court hearings to give explanations.
CEEIHM: And what led you to retain Triniti Jurex in the first place?
Valdas: We have worked with Triniti Jurex for many years already. We trust the lawyers and I had no doubt whom to call after receiving the claim. I am very thankful to Agne Varneliene and her team – they performed brilliantly and exceeded our expectations.