News and Views

January 18, 2019

Real Estate Developers (RED) E&O Claims

REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS E&O

RED policies marry the features of professional liability insurance for design professionals, contractors and real estate development professionals into a broader
solution for the real estate industry than previously available. The following hypothetical scenarios illustrate potential situations in which a RED policy might
provide coverage.

NEGLIGENT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

A RED policy may provide coverage for property management services provided to both owned and non-owned properties.

  • A developer/owner’s HVAC system goes down and its tenants’ businesses are disrupted. The tenants sue the developer/owner for consequential damages to their businesses, alleging that the developer/property manager was unwilling to permit recommended maintenance after heavy wear was discovered in the cooling system of a building. A RED policy may provide coverage for the tenants’ allegations.
  • At the request of a tenant, a property manager hires a flooring company to replace the carpets and hardwood floors on a stair landing. The tenant’s employee later slips on the landing and falls down the stairs. The employee sues the property manager, alleging negligent hiring and supervision of the
    flooring company. A RED policy may provide professional liability coverage for the performance of professional services as a property manager.
January 18, 2019

Architectural and construction firms blame engineers for River Center Library problems

Source: https://www.theadvocate.com, January 17, 2019
By: Steve Hardy

Attorneys for architectural and construction firms caught up in a lawsuit over faulty construction of the River Center Library are blaming the problems on faulty engineering design work.

Work on the building has floundered since April upon a break in the welding that supports a cantilever — a portion of the library that hangs over the sidewalk on the north face.

The city-parish tried to mediate with its construction, engineering and architectural firms, though talks broke down, and now the government has taken its contractors to court.

In a recent filing in the 19th judicial district, the insurance company representing construction firm Buquet & LeBlanc claims the plans drawn up by Structural Consultants Associates, Inc. “caused the structural failure.”

According to letters obtained by The Advocate, Buquet & LeBlanc blamed SCA for problems with the building within days of the welding break, but now the allegations are part of the court record.…

January 17, 2019

Pompano Beach community meeting focuses on cleanup efforts following sewage spill

Source: https://wsvn.com, January 16, 2019
By: Walter Morris

Residents of a Pompano Beach neighborhood aired their grievances at a community meeting following a massive raw sewage spill that has polluted the city’s waterways.

Members of the community sounded off at city and county leaders during the meeting on Wednesday, where an update was given on cleanup efforts.

Representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation and environmental experts were also in attendance.

Officials said an FDOT contractor broke a 42-inch sewage pipe while drilling near Interstate 95 and Northwest 15th Street, on Jan. 4.

For almost a week, more than 30 million gallons of raw sewage leaked into the canals, killing fish and turtles.

The sewage spill also created an awful smell that has residents complaining.…

January 17, 2019

City of Stuart suing manufacturers of fire suppression foam said chemicals in the product contaminated water

Source: https://www.wptv.com, January 16, 2019
By: Meghan McRoberts

The city of Stuart is now suing several major companies it said contaminated the city’s drinking water for decades, giving people who live and work there no warning.

The lawsuit claims the companies, which manufacture fire suppression foam, knew there were chemicals in their products that could harm the environment and threaten public health. The lawsuit says the companies delayed notifying the consumers they sold the product to, including firefighters in Stuart.

It’s leaving some worried about cancer and other serious ailments some researchers link to long term exposure to the contaminants.

Now, the City of Stuart is working on several major projects to make sure your water stays safe.

In September 2018, several Stuart homeowners were given notice from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that their groundwater tested positive for high levels of chemicals called PFOAs and PFOS.

The chemicals were long used in making clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging for food and other materials (cookware) that are resistant to water, grease or stains. They are also used for firefighting at airfields and in a number of industrial processes, according to the EPA.…

January 17, 2019

A $3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise

Source: Miami Herald, January 10, 2019
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

Miami-Dade has tens of thousands of septic tanks, and a new report reveals most are already malfunctioning — the smelly and unhealthy evidence of which often ends up in people’s yards and homes. It’s a billion-dollar problem that climate change is making worse.

As sea level rise encroaches on South Florida, the Miami-Dade County study shows that thousands more residents may be at risk — and soon. By 2040, 64 percent of county septic tanks (more than 67,000) could have issues every year, affecting not only the people who rely on them for sewage treatment, but the region’s water supply and the health of anyone who wades through floodwaters.

“That’s a huge deal for a developed country in 2019 to have half of the septic tanks not functioning for part of the year,” said Miami Waterkeeper Executive Director Rachel Silverstein. “That is not acceptable.”

Septic tanks require a layer of dirt underneath to do the final filtration work and return the liquid waste back to the aquifer. Older rules required one foot of soil, but newer regulations call for double that. In South Florida, there’s not that much dirt between the homes above ground and the water below.…

January 16, 2019

More money sought to clean up site

Source: https://www.thegardnernews.com, January 16, 2019
By: Andrew Mansfield

The Gardner Redevelopment Authority is seeking additional grant funding for environmental clean-up of the property at 140 South Main St.

The property was home to Bolster Oil Co. several decades ago, believed to be the source of the petroleum-contaminated soil that testing discovered in recent years.

About $400,000 from federal and state sources for redevelopment efforts at the brownfield site has previously been awarded, but ended up not being enough to fully bring the site up to environmental standards.

“When you clean up a site like this, there are a lot of unknowns,” Gardner Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Trevor Beauregard said. “We did what we could do at the time under the circumstances. A lot of these types of sites you just never know.”

Beauregard also serves as the city’s planning director. The Redevelopment Authority is an economic development agency that works on behalf of the city’s interests.

According to an analysis of the site prepared for the city, the site at 140 South Main St. is a 0.22-acre property with two single-story buildings consisting of multi-room office space with an attached garage.…

January 16, 2019

Wisconsin takes first step to shield taxpayers from toxic cleanup cost

Source: Wisconsin State Journal, January 14, 2019
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

Wisconsin has taken the first step toward scaling back liability protections for the owners of contaminated properties, a move that could save taxpayers from potential pollution cleanup costs that have run into the hundreds of millions of dollars in other states.

A re-examination of Wisconsin policies for exempting landowners from future pollution cleanups was prompted by heightened awareness of toxic fluorinated compounds that have emerged in soil, fish and drinking water over the last two decades.

But an influential business lobby said any changes to cleanup exemption programs should be subject to the state’s lengthy administrative rule-making process.

Despite that resistance, the Department of Natural Resources has stopped exempting landowners from future cleanups of fluorinated compounds without tests that show the material isn’t present.

DNR managers say more changes may be needed in the Wisconsin economic development program — among the nation’s most generous to property owners — that shifts legal responsibility for future cleanups to the public.…

January 16, 2019

Wrong place, wrong time!

Source: https://www.greatamericaninsurancegroup.com, “Environmental Insider,” January 2019

Be ready when life happens. These claim situations illustrate the variety of environmental exposures that could affected your customers!

A contractor was demolishing a small bridge as part of a roadway expansion project when it encountered asbestos- containing materials (ACM). Proper controls and air monitoring were put in place, but a neighbor complained that ACM dust had entered the heating, ventilation and air condition (HVAC) system of her home. Testing of the HVAC system revealed small amounts of ACM dust. To remove it, filters at the neighboring property had to be changed twice and the ducts had to be cleaned at a significant cost. A claim was made for these clean-up expenses and considerable legal fees were incurred.
January 16, 2019

Trends in the Environmental Industry – Asphalt Plants and Paving Contractors

Source: https://www.greatamericaninsurancegroup.com, “Environmental Insider”, January 2019

With the potential for a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bill on the horizon, the demand for asphalt paving projects is expected to increase as the nation’s infrastructure undergoes upgrades, improvements and new construction. Often an increase in workload results in increased potential for accidents and associated environmental liability exposures. Environmental incidents associated with infrastructure projects can lead to extensive cleanup costs, legal expenses, and possible fines incurred from state or federal regulatory agencies. Fortunately, with proper insurance protection, many of these exposures can be mitigated. Great American’s Contracting Services Environmental Liability insurance policy, also known as the CSE form, offers the coverage contractors need to reduce liability and to protect their bottom line.

With more than ten years in the industry, we have the experience and expertise to offer best-in-class programs and service. Our specialized team can help brokers and their clients uncover hidden exposures, which may include……

January 15, 2019

Polish motorway is covered in chocolate as tanker truck overturns

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk, May 10, 2018
By: Mythili Sampathkumar

One local official says it has been a long time since police were smiling at the scene of an accident

A truck full of liquid chocolate has overturned on a motorway in Poland, spilling 12 tonnes of the sweet stuff all over the road.

Traffic was blocked in both directions of the A2 motorway between the towns of Wrzesnia and Slupca in Western Poland, according to the Associated Press. The road also connects the major cities of Poznan and Warsaw. No one was gravely injured as a result of the accident, but the driver of the lorry was taken to hospital with a broken arm.

It is not clear as yet what caused the tanker truck to overturn and fall onto its side across the median, or where it was ultimately headed. By the time cleanup crews had arrived the liquid had begun to solidify, making the operation more difficult, local police said.

Bogdan Kowalski of Slupca’s fire brigade said that “the cooling chocolate is worse than snow”. He also noted that in the initial moments after the accident there were some who drove their vehicles through the sticky liquid, spreading it for several kilometres along the road.

Marlena Kukawka, a media officer for the police in the small town of Slupca, told the New York Times it would take “hours” to clean the mess and fire brigades were using streams of hot water to remelt the chocolate in order to wash it away.

As the Washington Post reported about the local news station TVN24: “One of its reporters at the scene was walking along the edge of the shoulder to avoid the chocolate only to slip and fall into a ditch, where there was, indeed, more chocolate”.

On a positive note, Ms Kukawka said “it’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many smiles on the faces of emergency rescue folks and police officers at the scene of an accident”.