Ro v. Factory Mutual Insurance Co. et al.
The Supreme Court of New Hampshire has ruled that a subrogation action could not be brought by Dartmouth College’s insurer, Factory Mutual Insurance Company, against students who were residents in one of the college’s residence halls. Student residents set part of the building ablaze when they set up a charcoal grill on a fourth-floor balcony, in violation of residence hall regulations, and caused fire and smoke damage throughout much of the building. The court found the relationship between colleges and student-residents living in college dormitories so analogous to the landlord-tenant relationship that the Sutton Doctrine, which New Hampshire law has previously adopted, applies and bars subrogation against the students. When presented the argument that the students were in violation of school rules when they started the fire, and therefore should be held accountable in equity, the Supreme Court disagreed, stating that Factory knew they were insuring a college dormitory, and were free to charge increased premiums to reflect the associated heightened risks that college students would violate campus rules and negligently start a fire.