ASBESTOS LITIGATION CASES
Asbestos cases have included such issues as interpretation of the various versions of policy exclusions for asbestosis and asbestos risk, application of policy coverage and limits where there is uncertainty and difference between products’ coverage and operations’ coverage under a commercial general liability policy.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s the ‘asbestos crisis’ hit the insurance industry, a time in which the insurance marketplace no longer provided liability insurance for asbestos producers. Liability policies issued to asbestos producers typically had an asbestos exclusion attached. But, as asbestos producers have run out of insurance coverage under the onslaught of a virtually uncountable number of liability suits, new sources of coverage are being sought. Policies with asbestos exclusions are now the target with the plaintiff’s strategy being that the exclusion does not mean what it says.
ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATION CASES
Contamination and pollution exclusions (aka seepage and pollution exclusions) were first introduced in 1970 as the insurance industry’s response to the environmental crisis that was gaining momentum in society generally. These exclusions were intended for any policy insuring general liability or umbrella liability and attempted to distinguish between insurable accidents (abrupt and unforeseeable) and uninsurable events (such as indifferent handling of waste). My case issues have included history and understanding of the contamination and pollution exclusion and coverage under commercial general liability policies for pollution incidents.
PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY CASES
Professional liability coverage (aka errors and omissions coverage) covers mistakes in providing services to clients by the recognized categories of professionals. For instance, one case involved a lawyer who did not initiate suit in a timely manner against a catering company that caused an accident injuring the client’s employee. The client, an aircraft company insured under a dividend plan, supposedly had to bear the cost of the resulting injuries. My analysis and testimony showed that the aircraft company had a maximum dividend feature in their premium plan that was actuarially going to be exceeded for the year in question, thus eliminating any damages for that lawyer’s client, despite a supposed breach in client services. No settlement was needed to end the case.
Another professional liability case against an insurance broker was closed with no settlement after my testimony showed that the employer, not the broker, was responsible for the contract rescission of the employment practices liability insurance. The employer had withheld material information in completing the application, which became part of the policy.
AUTOMOBILE LIABILITY INSURANCE CASE
The history of an insurance transaction can have a bearing on later litigation. In this case, for example, the agent’s errors occurred more than ten years prior to the loss that resulted in this litigation, but his client had no reason to suspect the error and the agent never reviewed his work or recommended improved coverage until a fatal accident brought the mistake to light. Jury verdict for the client.
BUILDER’S RISK CASE
Property insurance policies, including builder’s risk, contain an exclusion for land. This case illustrates the need to amend the standard land exclusion in certain circumstances, as well as the application of Temporary Storage coverage, and the use of a loss limit instead of insurance to value in certain situations. I testified for the plaintiff (policyholder), who obtained a settlement as claimed.
EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES LIABILITY INSURANCE CASE
The presenting allegations in a complex insurance case may be misleading. What appears to be the precipitating cause of an uninsured loss may, after an expert review and analysis, in fact be only coincidental, as this case illustrates. My testimony on behalf of the surplus line broker showed the employer and retail broker liable for the claim denial by the insurer.
BROKER’S DUTY WHEN REPORTING PROPERTY LOSS INSURANCE CLAIMS
What duty does a broker owe a client? It will vary according to what the parties agree. It can be as simple as providing insurance that the client has ordered. In contrast, it can involve extensive services that are negotiated and agreed upon in writing. Whether the brokerage service is simple or involved, a standard of care will apply which incorporates the parties' agreement (expressed or implied). This case illustrated how the standard of care comes into play in the reporting of a property loss by the broker. My testimony was for the plaintiff, who obtained a settlement from the broker.