A couch, a sprinkler and a lawsuit

The Post has a saga about a lawsuit over millions in damage from the moving of a couch at 66 Leonard, the building on the southeast corner of Church, in November 2021 that dislodged a sprinkler head as it was being lowered down the stairwell and caused a flood that residents are still dealing with. It’s a cautionary tale that I thought was worth a full post, since it’s just kind of nuts that such a small thing — the moving of a single couch — could come to this.

Plus not sure why anyone in the building would want to leak (truly, the pun was not intended) to The Post, but here we are.

The suit is between Furnishare (which is actually the used furniture company Kaiyo), the company that was moving the couch, and Traveler’s insurance, which used a clause in their contract about “auto exclusion” to refuse the claim.

From the case: “The damaged sprinkler head released water at a substantial rate, flooding the staircase and parts of the building. In addition to damage to common areas of the Textile Building, multiple residents reported severe water damage to their apartments. Claims for property damage were asserted against Furnishare; Furnishare timely notified Travelers of the incident and the Textile Building Claims
and requested that Travelers provide coverage. Rather than providing coverage, Travelers denied Furnishare’s claim.”

The Furnishare movers intended to move the couch down the stairs and out of the building to the sidewalk, so that it could then be loaded onto the Furnishare truck and transported to its destination. But the couch never even made it off the sixth floor.

From The Post: “Emergency mold remediation began in the hallways and stairwells. The estimated repair cost was $400,000. The work took eight months, according to permits from the Department of Buildings. Several apartments on lower floors also sustained severe water damage — more than $500,000 each….The case hinges on the definition of ‘loading and unloading’ — and whether the moving truck was being loaded while the errant couch was inside, still upstairs.”





  1. Why is the suit between furniture company and insurance company for damage done to the tenants premises? The tenants would sue individually their own insurance companies? Maybe they did but then the individual insurance companies would be dealing with Furniture Co./ Travelers and not the tenants. Was this the case?
    When we rented in Tribeca for 40 years, our loft and contents were directly insured by our insurance co. Under a “renters insurance”. So were the tenants covered themselves? Are you reporting on Traveler’s response to the Furniture company being sued by other insurance coverage held by the tenants?
    We were directly sued by the tenant below us for water damage to their ground floor ceiling. They were also the owners’ of the building. We had no damage but our insurance company Geico, showed up to defend us against the suit,
    They took photos and established that the damage came from a leaking roof 4 floors up and water ran down the walls ending up on the ground floor. Yet we were the ones directly above.

    Moral of this story is to be certain as tenants to prevent this type of suit by having your own insurance. This was not a complicated issue for us at all. Without this insurance we would have had to deal with a $16.000 suit ourselves by hiring lawyers etc! Renter beware!

  2. Addendum; something “ was wrong with this picture” re water damage and broken sprinkler. Not possible to have occurred as reported. For that to have happened sofa would have had to been held vertically to go down the stairs. That would 1) totally block your vision 2) risk pushing you off balance from the height and weight 3) be impossible to have the strength to lift couch that high above your head!

    I think an invented story. More likely, guys were fooling around, and, for example-were trying to hit the sprinkler head with a hard rubber ball or a golf ball. That could be a challenge because of ceiling angle and difficulty targeting it while looking up. They could never say that to the insurance company I guess because thry would never be believed or if to the owner of the furniture company not found to be too funny. So…

    • Susan, you may well be right. But another possibility — sometimes the turns on stairwells are so tight that a couch can’t make it. I’ve seen crews lower the couch vertically over the railing to a crew on the next level. Getting the couch over the railing means lifting it up another few feet; or it could swing the wrong way going down.

  3. Travelers is the worst! After years of paying premiums they refused a $600 repair for a neighbors damaged ceiling.
    My hot water heater was sitting still during a 2 year renovation and the bottom rusted out and damaged the ceiling below. I wish the contractor or plumber would have told me to drain the boiler if it was sitting unused for 2 years.
    I was not home at the time of the leak and that’s why they wouldn’t pay for it-because I was not liable and didn’t cause it ! I told them that it is my boiler and so I should be responsible and the insurance should cover it. The agent told me if I was home taking a bath and the tub overflowed and damaged the guy downstairs they would cover it.
    Travelers is the worst!!! We love Geico -they are the best!
    Great customers service ,quick response and very fair amounts to pay for coverage