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Ricki Lake Sued -- You Burned Down My Beach House!

6/11/2011 5:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

What does Ricki Lake have in common with the Exxon Valdez? Each is responsible for a super-destructive, wildly expensive oil spill ... allegedly.

Ricki Lake Lawsuit

Lake is being sued for allegedly making a HUGE mistake with some flammable heating oil ... and causing the fire that burned down the Malibu beach house she was renting back in 2010.

According to the lawsuit filed by the owner of the home ...  Lake was refilling a portable space heater when she spilled the oil on the hot heating coils -- and the oil burst into flames. The fire quickly ripped through the entire property. 
Ricki Lake
In the lawsuit, filed Monday in L.A. County Superior Court, the owner, Hovsep Kousouyan, claims Lake spoke with emergency personnel who responded to the fire -- and she admitted the whole thing was her fault.

Kousouyan says his beach house was completely destroyed in the blaze -- and wants Lake to pay for all of the damages ... which could be in the millions.

Calls to Lake's rep have not been returned.


82 COMMENTS

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16.

Justin    

If the landlord didn't provide proper heat, then the landlord did not have a legally habitable property and could not have entered a contract to rent it out. In addition, the home should've had a fire extinguisher. Most insurance (and possibly landlord/tenant law in that state) requires this for the very reason in the story - to prevent an entire structure from burning down. The end result is that Ricki will not be not liable. Instead, she should sue for loss of her possessions that were in the house.

If the owner has insurance, they will only be able to claim the difference between what insurance paid and what the structure is worth, since the land is still just as valuable as before the accident. If they win (unlikely), that is all she will have to pay.

Ceramic heaters are safer. Even tissue paper won't burn if it hits a ceramic heater's elements.

1138 days ago
17.

rollingstone    

I definitely think the homeowner is ultimately responsible, especially if there was no other heat source in the house. And if you get cold enough you'll use whatever available heat there is.

The homeowner should just be glad that Ms. Lake didn't die in the fire. He should also be grateful to be rid of that ugly house. I doubt he's out any real value, considering the age of the house and the value of beachfront property.

1138 days ago
18.

Kari    

I echo the insurance question. But I also can't believe that was worth millions! Location or not, it looks like a simple cabin, at best.

1138 days ago
19.

fuzzy    

Was the portable heater provided to her when she rented? Or was it brought into the house by her?
If the property owner rented this place to her with that dangerous heater there already, then I don't see him really being able to sue her for the damage done to the premises.
If she make the really bad decision to buy that heater and bring it into the house then, yes, she might have liability.
There are newer safer types of portable heaters on the market, for a reason. liquid fuel types are dangerous.

1138 days ago
20.

babyz65    

Thats what insurance is for, ACCIDENTS!!!!

1138 days ago
21.

WTF    

Is that the "before" picture?

1138 days ago
22.

Amy    

Slime ball! That's what insurance is for.

1138 days ago
23.

NAC    

Rikki, just pay the bill to restore the place. And that should not cost millions. The real price of the place is the land, not the cheap shack that was on it.

1138 days ago
24.

snazzygal    

As someone who handles homeowner claims I just had to comment on this one.The fire was not intentionally set by the owner, so there would be no reason for the insurance company to not pay to rebuild the home or his loss of rental income during the time it is being rebuilt *unless* he lied on his insurance application by not disclosing that it was being used as a rental (in order to save money).

1138 days ago
25.

Hollie    

As much as he should have home owner's insurance Rikki needs to have renters insurance as well to cover that skinnier ass of hers against dumb asses like him.

Like a good neighbor...

1138 days ago
26.

lmg    

Having rental property for many years, that is the chance you take when renting your property to others. Renters insurance only covers content..he should have had his property insured. I would be willing to bet the property owner knew she was using space heaters of that type. And if he did not approve, then he should have provided what type of equipment was to be used to heat the home. That would be one of the 1st questions I would ask a renter..how do you plan on heating the house?

1138 days ago
27.

lmg    

Having rental property for many years, that is the chance you take when renting your property to others. Renters insurance only covers content..he should have had his property insured. I would be willing to bet the property owner knew she was using space heaters of that type. And if he did not approve, then he should have provided what type of equipment was to be used to heat the home. That would be one of the 1st questions I would ask a renter..how do you plan on heating the house?

1138 days ago
28.

SiouxCityBoy    

1) Riki should have had some form of a "Tenant's Homeowners Policy" which would have covered her personal possessions and perhaps some liability on her part. She, as a celebrity (and being subject to perhaps even nefarious lawsuits), should also have a multi-million dollar liability umbrella policy which would provide insurance for her if someone sues her for any action or in-action she may encounter.

2) The house may be insured by the actual landlord/homeowner, but I doubt his policy, if it exists, covers the needed requirements when re-building to now build to current building codes, which are very stringent and exceptionally expensive. Most fire policies exclude any added costs to re-build a structure to current building codes.

3) If the landlord supplied the heater, or simply knew that the tenant supplied heater was being used, then he would also have some liability regarding it's use and the resultant fire. I suspect the final outcome of a lawsuit in such a case the finding would provide the landlord had/has more responsibility and liability for the damages than a simpleton/inexperienced tenant.

4) In California a Landlord must provide:
" ... Heating facilities in good working order. ..."
California Civil Code Section 1941.1.

I am pleased I am neither the Landlord nor the Tenant!

1138 days ago
29.

3Storms    

There's no way that house is worth millions, even in California's BS inflated real estate prices. Here in Texas most poor people don't even live in houses that small and ratty-looking.

1138 days ago
30.

bunny    

Why can't she go up to Walmart and buy a space heater that plugs in like everyone else? She should pay for the damages. Why should the home owner do it when it was her fault?

1138 days ago
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