THE COURT OF CASSATION, SECOND CIVIL CHAMBER
LexInter | November 14, 2002 | 0 Comments

THE COURT OF CASSATION, SECOND CIVIL CHAMBER

The applicants invoke, in support of their appeal, the single plea of ​​cassation annexed to this judgment;

Means produced by SCP RICHARD and MANDELKERN, lawyer advising for the GFA and Mr. Chalono

IT IS COMPLAINED with the judgment under appeal to have declared Mr. Jean-Claude CHALONO responsible, on the basis of the provisions of article 1384, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code of the harmful consequences of the fire which occurred on August 10, 1994 rue Victor Sévère, in FORT-DE-FRANCE, and to have consequently condemned him, in solidum with the COMPAGNIE GROUPEMENT FRANCAIS D’ASSURANCES, to pay to the Company the MUTUELLES DU MANS, subrogated in the rights of its insured, the SCI MANOIR DE BEAUREGARD, the sum of 2,332,196 francs;

ON THE REASONS THAT the building of Mr. CHALONO (old mixed-frame building: concrete, metal and wood) consists of a ground floor with kitchens and a large dining room for customers, a first floor constituting the manufacturing workshop and a second floor for office and warehouse use; that the first and second floors were completely destroyed by fire while the ground floor was degraded by water; that the adjacent building of SCI MANOIR DE LA BEAUREGARD, an old building mainly in wood, also has two floors (and attics) which were completely destroyed by fire, two of the shops on the ground floor (jewelry and optician ) having been damaged by water; that it is sufficient, for the application of the article 1384 paragraph 2 of the Civil Code, that the fire has started in the building of the holder, without it being necessary that the first cause of this has been determined; that in this case, if the time and the exact link of the start of the fire could not be precisely determined, it appears however from the minutes and notes annexed to the report of the expert ROUSSEAU that the fire took birth inside the CHALONO building; that the fault which may be held against the holder of the building is not only that which is at the origin of the loss, but extends to any negligence or imprudence having contributed to the extension or the aggravation of the pity ; that on the first floor of the building, there was a manufacturing workshop (or “laboratory” ) comprising in particular a work room, a bulky pastry oven supplied by a 2,000-liter fuel tank, freezers, dividers, and a dozen 40-liter gas bottles; that it emerges from the above-mentioned minutes and reports (firefighters and police services) that, while the firefighters attacked the flames coming out of the openings on the first floor of the CHALONO building, several violent explosions occurred and that the fire then spread to the neighboring building (SCI MANOIR DE BEAUREGARD), both floors of which were completely destroyed; that by judgment of May 15, 1998, the Court of sits, noting that the establishment received from the public, enjoined Mr. CHALONO to specify in particular the date of installation of the furnace and the fuel tank and the date of installation, number and type of gas cooking appliances on the first floor; that in his writings deposited June 25, 1998, Mr. CHALONO indicated that the furnace and the fuel tank had been installed in 1970 and that the first stage comprised only a gas appliance comprising four fires; that the storage of three gas bottles near the fuel tank was thus in no way justified; that on the dozen gas bottles, it is established that at least one, stored in the immediate vicinity of the fuel tank, exploded during the fire, thus promoting the spread of fire to the neighboring building; that thus, the findings of the investigators demonstrate the fault of recklessness of Mr. CHALONO, whose responsibility was precisely held in application of the

1 °) ALORS QU’il there is no causal link between the fault consisting in storing without precaution flammable products and the fire of these products, by an external cause, which has spread to the neighboring building; that in deciding nevertheless that the fault alleged against Mr. CHALONO, consisting in having stored without precaution flammable products, was linked by a causal link to the propagation of the fire, the cause of which was not found in these products and was remained undetermined, the Court of Appeal violated Article 1384, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code;

2 °) WHEREAS, in the alternative, by condemning Mr. CHALONO and the GROUPEMENT FRANCAIS D’ASSURANCES to repair the entire damage resulting from the fire, after noting that the fault alleged against Mr. CHALONO had not caused it, but only aggravated it, from which it resulted that Mr. CHALONO was only responsible for the damage caused by this aggravation, the Court of Appeal did not draw the legal consequences from its own findings, in violation of Article 1384, paragraph 2 of the Civil Code;

3 °) WHEREAS by refraining from responding to the conclusions of Mr CHALONO and the GROUPEMENT FRANCAIS D’ASSURANCES, who argued that SCI MANOIR DE BEAUREGARD had committed a fault which contributed to its own damage, by refraining from put in place a separating wall on its building with a sufficient degree of fire protection, so that it had to bear all or part of its damage, the Court of Appeal violated article 455 of the new Code of Civil Procedure.

THE COURTYARD,

On the single means, taken in its three branches:

Whereas, according to the judgment under appeal (Fort-de-France, 23 October 1998), a fire broke out in a building whose owner, Mr. Chalono, operated a restaurant-pastry shop; that the fire spread in the adjoining building belonging to the SCI Manoir de Beauregard; that this company and its insurer, the company Les Mutuelles du Mans, asked Mr. Chalono and his insurer, the French Insurance Group (GFA), compensation for their prejudice;

Whereas the GFA and Mr. Chalono criticize the judgment for having declared the latter responsible, on the basis of article 1384, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code, for the damaging consequences of the fire and for having condemned them , in solidum, to the payment of an indemnity, then, according to the means:

1 ° / that there is no causal link between the fault consisting in storing without precaution flammable products and the fire of these products, by an external cause, which has spread to the neighboring building; that in deciding nevertheless that the fault alleged against Mr. Chalono, consisting in having stored without precaution flammable products, was linked by a causal link to the propagation of the fire, the cause of which was not in his products and remained undetermined, the Court of Appeal violated Article 1384, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code;

2 ° / that, in the alternative, by condemning Mr. Chalono and the GFA to repair the entire damage resulting from the fire, after having noted that the fault alleged against Mr. Chalono had not caused it, but the had only aggravated, which resulted in Mr. Chalono only being liable for the damage caused by this aggravation, the Court of Appeal did not draw the legal consequences of its findings, in violation of Article 1384, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code;

3 ° / that by refraining from responding to the conclusions of Mr. Chalono and the GFA, who argued that SCI Manoir de Beauregard had committed a fault that contributed to its own damage, by refraining from setting up on her building a separating wall with a sufficient degree of fire, so that she had to bear all or part of her damage, the court of appeal violated article 455 of the Code of Civil Procedure;

But given that the judgment, for proper and adopted reasons, after noting that the cause of the fire was undetermined, notes that there were in the premises a tank of fuel oil and twelve gas bottles and that at least one of these bottles exploded during the fire, thus promoting the spread of the fire to the neighboring building; that, according to the expert’s findings, the premises, where flammable products were stored and where there were also significant heat sources, did not comply with the requirements of article 70 of the decree of March 21, 1968 ;

That, from these findings and statements, the Court of Appeal rightly deduced that Mr. Chalono had committed a fault in causal relationship with the damage and liable to be incurred, on the basis of Article 1384, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code, his responsibility in the propagation of the fire and ordered him to repair the damage;

And expected that the GFA and Mr. Chalono not having invoked the fault of the victim nor requested a partial exemption of their responsibility, the means, in its third branch, lack in fact;

From which it follows that the means cannot be accepted;

FOR THESE REASONS :

DISMISSES the appeal;

Orders the French Insurance Group and Mr. Chalono to pay the costs;

Considering article 700 of the new Code of Civil Procedure, rejects the request of the French Insurance Group and of Mr. Chalono; condemns them to pay the SCI Manoir de Beauregard and the company Les Mutuelles du Mans assurances the total sum of 10,000 francs.

On the report of Mr. Mazars, advisor, the observations of SCP Richard and Mandelkern, lawyer of the French Insurance Group and of Mr. Chalono, of SCP Boré, Xavier and Boré, lawyer of SCI Manoir de Beauregard and of the company Les Mutuelles du Mans assurances, the conclusions of Mr. Kessous, general counsel; Mr. BUFFET, President.

THE COURT OF CASSATION, SECOND CIVIL CHAMBER.

June 24, 1999. Judgment n ° 991. Cassation.

Appeal No. 97-21.270.

NOTE  Marshal, Jean-Yves ,    JCP G Semaine Juridique (general edition)   , n °             10   ,             07/03/2001   , pp.             489-493 Case law II 10483

On the appeal brought by: 1 ° / the General Insurance of France, whose registered office is 87, rue de Richelieu, 75002 Paris, 2 ° / the Ruggieri establishments, a limited company, whose registered office is: 09270 Mazères, in cassation of the ” judgment delivered on October 27, 1997 by the Toulouse Court of Appeal (1st chamber, 1st section), in favor of: 1 ° / of the company Abeille assurances, Groupe commercial union, whose head office is at 52, rue de la Victoire, 75455 Paris Cedex, 2 ° / of Mr. Maurice Belondrade, residing Pic de la Fontaine, 09270 Mazères, 3 ° / of Mr. Christian Cazeneuve, residing Le Clavier du Pont, 09270 Mazères, 4 ° / of Mr. Moïse Cazeneuve, residing Le Clavier du Pont, 09270 Mazères, 5 ° / of Mr. Christian Estrade, residing rue du 8 mai 1945, 09270 Mazères, defendants at the cassation;

Means produced by Me Baraduc-Benabent, lawyer advising for the AGF company and others

SINGLE MEANS OF TERMINATION

The judgment under appeal is criticized for having, in application of article 1384 paragraph 1 of the Civil Code, declared the company RUGGIERI liable for the damage suffered by the claimants following the incident of June 27, 1993 and the to have consequently ordered in solidum with its insurer, the company AGF, to pay various sums to the victims of the damage and to their insurer, the company ABEILLE,

FOR THE REASONS THAT it emerges from the report of Mr. VAN SCHENDEL that ‘the origin of the damage is in a fire of accidental origin having affected the designated warehouse D22. This fire, says the expert, initiated self-propelled projectiles which flew into space and in turn caused fires. It therefore appears that it is not a matter of a fire which spread from building to building, but of a fire which caused the departure of objects placed in the care of the company RUGGIERI and which, they themselves caused other fires, distinct from the first, by their cause and the determination of the outbreaks. As there was no intervention of a foreign cause having the characteristics of unpredictability and irresistibility specific to force majeure,

WHEREAS article 1384 paragraph 2 of the Civil Code does not distinguish, for its application, depending on whether the primary cause of the fire has been determined or not and whether it is linked or not to something which is the custodian of the occupant of the land where the fire started; that it is sufficient that the fire is born in the building or the movable goods of this one and is the cause of the damage, little important that the fire is related to a thing of which the occupant has the care; that having noted that the fire had originated in the building of the RUGGIERI company and that the projectiles from this fire had damaged the property of third parties, the court did not draw the legal consequences of its findings with regard to of article 1384 paragraph 2 of the Civil Code.

THE COURT, composed in accordance with article L. 131-6, paragraph 2, of the Code of judicial organization, in the public hearing of May 26, 1999, where were present: Mr. Dumas, president, Mr. Dorly, advisor rapporteur, M. Guerder, adviser, M. Monnet, advocate general, Mlle Laumône, clerk of the chamber;

On the sole means:

Having regard to article 1384, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code;

Whereas this text does not distinguish, for its application, according to whether or not the primary cause of the fire has been determined and according to whether it is linked or not to a thing of which the occupant of the land or the fire is guardian. arose; that it is sufficient that the fire be born in the building or the movable property of this one and is the cause of the damage, little important that the fire is related to a thing of which the occupant has the care;

Expected, according to the judgment under appeal, a fire, followed by explosions, occurred in the premises of the company Ruggieri (the company) manufacturer of pyrotechnic products, insured with the company AGF; that neighboring buildings, insured with the company Abeille assurances, were damaged; that their owners and their insurer, having partially compensated them and subrogated to their rights, demanded compensation for damages to the company and to AGF;

Whereas the judgment accepts the requests on the substituted basis of article 1384, paragraph 1, of the Civil Code, on the grounds that it was about a fire which had not been communicated from building to building, but which had caused the departure of objects in the care of the company, which, themselves, had caused other fires, distinct from the first by their cause and the determination of the outbreaks;

In which the court of appeal violated by refusal of application the aforementioned text;

FOR THESE REASONS :

BREAK AND CANCELED, in all its provisions, the judgment delivered on October 27, 1997, between the parties, by the Toulouse Court of Appeal; returns, consequently, the cause and the parts in the state where they were before the aforementioned judgment and, to be done right, returns them before the Court of Appeal of Agen;

Condemns the company Abeille assurances, Mr. Belondradre, consorts Cazeneuve and Mr. Estrade to the costs;

Considering article 700 of the new Code of Civil Procedure, rejects the defendants’ request;

Said that on the due diligence of the Attorney General near the Court of Cassation, this judgment will be transmitted to be transcribed on the sidelines or following the quashed judgment.

On the report of Mr. Dorly, advisor, the observations of SCP Baraduc and Duhamel, lawyer of General Insurance of France and, of the Ruggieri establishments, of SCP Coutard and Mayer, lawyer of the company Abeille assurances, of Mr. Belondrade, consorts Cazeneuve and M. Estrade, the conclusions of M. Monnet, Advocate General, and after having deliberated in accordance with the law; Mr. DUMAS president.

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