Arena Holdings Charitable, LLC v. Harman Prof'l, Inc., No. 14-1853 (8th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
A fire occurred at the Ralph Engelstad Arena on July 3, 2011. Arena Holdings alleges the fire started when a Crown Macro-Tech 5002VZ amplifier produced a direct current to a speaker that spread to adjoining speakers located in the catwalk area. Harman is the manufacturer of the alleged defective amplifier. Impulse Group installed the sound reinforcement system at the Arena when it was originally built, and installed the amplifier. The fire caused approximately $5,000,000 of damage throughout the Arena; it directly damaged the arena structure and equipment in the vicinity of the amplifier and speakers. The presence of smoke and soot throughout the Arena after the fire caused additional damage. Arena Holdings sued Harman, alleging negligence, strict liability and post-sale failure-to warn claims. Harman filed a third-party complaint against Impulse Group and others. The district court granted Harman summary judgment, finding that the economic loss doctrine precluded Arena Holdings from recovering tort damages. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, acknowledging that barring tort claims where a plaintiff seeks economic damages for foreseeable losses for which the plaintiff could have contractually allocated risk is admittedly no longer a "modern trend," but stating that it is neither is an antiquated or disfavored approach.