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In an unpublished decision, the California Court of Appeal found no prejudicial error in the introduction of evidence of a four year old arson to the insured’s vehicle in an insured’s trial for arson and insurance fraud involving his business.

People v. Valerio (Second District Court of Appeal of California, February 23, 2016, Unpublished) 2016 WL 720988

Valerio’s business was having financial difficulty. Six weeks after taking out a business insurance policy, a fire occurred. The investigation revealed gasoline and road flares were used to start the fire. Four years earlier, Valerio had presented an insurance claim for arson to his vehicle which also involved the use of gasoline and road flares. (The claim was paid and no criminal charges were brought.) Valerio was convicted of arson and insurance fraud, based in part on this prior act evidence. On appeal, he claimed the introduction of the prior arson was prejudicial. The appellate court affirmed, concluding that the evidence of the prior fire was not inadmissible, because “other act” evidence may be admitted when relevant to prove some other material fact, including intent, knowledge, identity, motive, or the existence of a common design or plan.

To view the opinion, click HERE.

John D. DeHaan, Ph.D., FABC, FFSSoc, MIFireE
November 2011

Introduction: 

In every country, particularly in highly industrialized ones, fire kills a significant percentage of people. In the U.S., it is one of the five leading causes of accidental death with about 3,500 fire deaths reported per year (12 per million population).1 In the UK, 451 fire-related deaths were reported in 2008 (7.1 deaths/1000 dwelling fires or 7.3 per million population).2 Scotland reported only 47 fire fatalities in 2010-11 and 59 for 2009-10.3 These figures are about half of what they were in the 1970’s. The involvement of the investigator or forensic specialist in fatal fires can come in any form, from any sector, and challenge one’s talents and knowledge to come to just and accurate conclusions. These cases require the highest degree of cooperation between the investigators who all have contributions to make towards a successful investigation. When deaths occur in a fire, the event becomes the focus of the press and the public as well as police, fire, insurance, and forensic professionals. When problems occur, they can have far-reaching consequences. 

 

From Out of the Abyss...

This week's article is from the March 1956 VOL II, No 3 issue of the California Conference of Arson Investigators newsletter.  It was written by George W. Lacy.

"What Constitutes Evidence", Analyzed Unusual Evidence for Scientific Identification. 

SUMMARY:

Eldorado National-Kansas (Eldorado) is recalling certain model year 2010-2015 Amerivan and Amerivan 10 vehicles manufactured September 1, 2009, to March 28, 2016 on Dodge and Chrysler minivan chassis. The crimp fastener on the fuel line assembly of the affected vehicles may not be fully crimped, allowing fuel to leak at the hose to fitting assembly.

Find the details at NHTSA

Description

This recall involves Rheem brand “Performance Platinum” electric water heaters in 40, 50 and 80 gallon capacities. The recalled water heaters are gray and have the “Performance Platinum” Rheem logo decal on the front above the thermostat control panel. The water heaters have a rating plate near the bottom of the unit with the model number, date of manufacture and serial number. Recalled water heaters have the following model number and have a serial number within the following ranges:

Model Number

Serial Number Ranges

Date Code

XE40M12EC55U0

A0114XXXXX to A5214XXXXX

M0114XXXXX to M5214XXXXX

Q0114XXXXX to Q5214XXXXX

 

A0515XXXXX

 

A1015XXXXX to A1615XXXXX

01Jan2014 – 21Dec2014

 

 

 

30Jan2015

 

03Mar2015  – 13Apr2015

XE50M12EC55U0

A0114XXXXX to A5214XXXXX

M0114XXXXX to M5214XXXXX

Q0114XXXXX to Q5214XXXXX

 

A0515XXXXX

 

A1015XXXXX to A1615XXXXX

01Jan2014 – 21Dec2014

 

 

 

30Jan2015

 

03Mar2015 – 13Apr2015

XE50T12EC55U0

A0114XXXXX to A5214XXXXX

M0114XXXXX to M5214XXXXX

Q0114XXXXX to Q5214XXXXX

1Jan2014 – 21Dec2014

XE80T12EC55U0

A0114XXXXX to A5214XXXXX

M0114XXXXX to M5214XXXXX

Q0114XXXXX to Q5214XXXXX

1Jan2014 – 21Dec2014

Get the full details at CPSC.

CCAI was recently contacted by CBS (San Francisco) News Investigative Reporter, Julie Watts, regarding fire retardant chemicals in child car seats, and was looking for footage of burning vehicles. We were happy to help.

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Car seats are the only consumer product that parents are legally required to purchase in every state, though they are also commonly used outside of the car as strollers seats, swing inserts and as a place for babies to sleep inside the home.

A recent KPIX investigation repeatedly uncovered concerning, even cancer-causing, chemicals in a majority of the car seats tested. Then, using biomonitoring, we linked high levels of cancer-causing flame retardants in a child’s body to the flame retardants in her car seat.

The alleged culprit: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 44-year old Federal Motor Vehicle Flammability Standard, FMVSS No. 302.

Click here for the video

Click on the link to see the full investigation.

Toxic Safety: Investigating Car Seat Chemicals

Coffee Break Training

NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations plays a fundamental role in fire and
explosion investigations. A new edition of NFPA 921 is scheduled to be published in
2014. For years, this document has played a critical role in the training, education and
job performance of fire and explosion investigators. It also serves as one of the primary
references used by the National Fire Academy to support its fire/arson-related training
and education programs. It is imperative that investigators understand the scope,
purpose and application of this document, especially since it will be used to judge the
quality and thoroughness of their investigations.

NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations plays a fundamental role in fire and explosion investigations. A new edition of NFPA 921 is scheduled to be published in 2014. For years, this document has played a critical role in the training, education and job performance of fire and explosion investigators. It also serves as one of the primary references used by the National Fire Academy to support its fire/arson-related training and education programs. It is imperative that investigators understand the scope, purpose and application of this document, especially since it will be used to judge the quality and thoroughness of their investigations.

Read more...

Arson Fires Underreported

SAN DIEGO - A Team 10 and Scripps News investigation found arson fires are not investigated properly in many American cities -- including San Diego -- due to a chaotic patchwork of reporting systems and standards.

Many deliberately set building fires are not reported to the federal government.

Nationally, just 5 percent of all residential building fires are intentionally set, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.  Data collected by Scripps News suggests the national arson rate to be significantly higher.

Read More...

Advanced Explosive Recognition 2013

The Central Valley Arson Investigators association continued the tradition of providing outstanding training at their annual Advanced Explosive Recognition class.  The training was held once again at the Tulare International Agri-Center grounds.  This year’s topic was the history of the American criminal bombings.  Guest speaker Ed Nordskog, LA Sheriff’s Department, lead the class through the history of American bombings, from the earliest bombings in America right up to the most current-day events.

Read more...

Practical Approaches for Recouping Good Faith Payments

Larry-Arnold-article

by: Larry Arnold

Faced with growing losses, insurance companies are focusing on fraud management and implementing risk mitigation controls, while at the same time remaining cognizant of their duty of good faith to policyholders.  So what happens when an insurer makes good faith payments on legitimate elements of an insurance claim but subsequently uncovers fraud in other elements of the claim?  Is the insurer entitled to recover all monies paid as part of the claim?  Or only the amount paid in reliance on the insured's misrepresentations?

Previously, there was no clear answer.  It was safe to assume that an insurer could recover monies paid on a claim under the right circumstances – the difficulty occurred when trying to recover payments made prior to the established fraud date.  For example, in California, the insurance code states, “If a representation is false in a material point, whether affirmative or promissory, the injured party is entitled to rescind the contract from the time the representation becomes false.”

Recent trial court rulings in favor of insurance companies, however, are changing the claims landscape.  These rulings will impact the way insurance companies handle genuine claims that are subsequently tainted by fraud, encouraging them to be proactive in recouping good faith payments.

Read more...

Water and Burning Cooking Oil

The three pictures below show the effect of putting one cup of water in a pan of one cup of oil on fire. You should always choose to cover the burning pan with a lid or cookie sheet and then turn off the burner. If you put water on the oil fire, the effects will almost always be deadly.

Submitted by Troy Morrison PIO CCAI

oil_water_fire1

 oil_water_fire2 oil_water_fire3

More Articles...

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