Nicole Kidman's burst-pipe lawsuit is a cold weather cautionary tale

By Virginia K. Smith  | January 7, 2015 - 12:59PM

Disputes with the neighbors over flooding are a tale as old as time, but if you live in a building as tony as 200 11th Avenue in Chelsea, your run-of-the-mill burst pipe problem could wind up costing you nearly $50,000. Such is the lesson Nicole Kidman seems to be learning the hard way: the New York Daily News reports that she's being sued by the insurance company of her downstairs neighbor, Urban Compass head honcho Leonard Steinberg, to the tune of $46,928.83.

The reason? According to the suit, Kidman hired a contractor from New Industries, Inc. to set up a copper pipe to run water to her outdoor terrace back in January 2012. Unfortunately, the contractor allegedly didn't bother to put insulation or heat tape around the pipe, which eventually froze and burst, unleashing a "cascade" of water into Steinberg's condo. Yikes.

While the problem here may have a larger-than-usual price tag attached, not to mention a celebrity sheen, it's actually pretty standard fare, says Jeff Schneider, president of insurance firm Gotham Brokerage. "This is the most common type of claim," he tells us. "Water damage from overflows of toilets, sinks, dishwashers, broken or frozen pipes."

While the damages should be covered by a standard apartment insurance policy, he notes, "When you have a general contractor doing work for you, you should get a certificate from the GC that shows he or she has workers compensation and general liability coverage." Additionally, he says, it's key to have it written into the contract that you'll be added as an "additional insured" on their liability coverage.

In other words, Kidman better hope that she—or her contractor—has a solid policy in place to cover the costs of flooding Steinberg's apartment. Stars: they're just like us, sort of.


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