News and Views

March 26, 2020

Massachusetts Contractor to Pay for Clean-Up Costs Following Chemical Explosion

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com/, March 26, 2020

A Sutton, Mass.-based contractor has agreed to pay $120,000 to reimburse the state for the cost of responding to a 2017 explosion and fire of a backyard shed at a Shrewsbury residential property, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced.

The explosion and fire released hazardous chemicals and fumes, causing workers and a neighbor to develop respiratory problems. Read more.

March 26, 2020

Many Liability Insurance Policies May Provide Coverage for Losses from Coronavirus

Source: https://www.advisen.com/
By: Daniel J Healy, Stephen D. Palley and Rhonda D. Orin, Anderson Kill

As the Coronavirus losses mount, a burning question for many businesses concerns the insurance coverage available to ease these losses. Insurance companies can be expected to push back, disclaim coverage and point to exclusions. But coverage exists for various forms of loss from this pandemic. A review of typical insurance policies held by businesses shows that coverage in multiple lines should be investigated. And as the government and public response continues to unfold, coverage terms should be revisited. Read more.

March 26, 2020

Virus Rules Let Construction Workers Keep Building Luxury Towers

Source: New York Times Online, March 25, 2020
Posted on: https://www.advisen.com/

The laborers, deemed “essential” by New York, work side by side, often sharing portable toilets that rarely have soap or hand sanitizer.

On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where, like most New Yorkers, residents are largely staying home as the city reels from the coronavirus pandemic, construction workers building a luxury condominium tower are being forced to continue working in confined and often unsanitary conditions. Read more.

March 25, 2020

Environmental Considerations: Identifying Risks and Protecting Assets in Turbulent Times

Source: https://www.natlawreview.com/, March 23, 2020

We are all currently experiencing turbulent economic conditions and uncertainties that may last for the foreseeable future. In light of this uncertainty, we remind property owners, lenders, and managers, as well as landlords and tenants, to identify both potential environmental risks and valuable environmental assets associated with a property or tenant.  Identifying these potential liabilities and assets now will ensure that risks can be managed and valuable entitlements can be preserved so as not to negatively affect the value of their assets.  Read more.

March 24, 2020

Liability Insurers Report Rise in Claims Against Architects and Engineers

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com/, March 24, 2020
By: Jim Sams

Increased billings by architecture and engineering firms generated bigger professional liability premiums in 2019 but also led to the first upswing in claims activity in several years, Ames & Gough said in a report.

The brokerage, based in McLean, Va., said its annual survey of professional liability insurance carriers found that 40 percent reported a deteriorating claims experience. Partner Jared Maxwell said some carriers will likely have to raise rates to keep up with increasing losses. Read more.

March 23, 2020

Pentagon cleanup of toxic ‘forever chemicals’ likely to last decades

Source: https://thehill.com/, March 22, 2020
By: Rebecca Beitsch

A recent report from the Pentagon says it may take decades to remove toxic “forever chemicals” from the water supply near military bases following a surge in the number of sites with suspected contamination.

The Defense Department now has 651 sites it suspects could be contaminated with PFAS, a class of chemicals used in a number of everyday products and in fire fighting foam used by the military. Read more.

March 20, 2020

Can Coverage for COVID-19 Be Excluded?

Source: https://www.natlawreview.com/, March 19, 2020

Business insurance policies contain exclusions precluding coverage under specified circumstances. Two exclusions potentially relevant to COVID-19 claims are the virus, bacteria or communicable disease and pollution exclusions. In this blog post, we examine these exclusions in the context of coverage issues for COVID-19.  Read more.

March 20, 2020

MIAMI COLLEGE CAMPUS CONTAMINATED WITH PFAS

Source: https://www.wqpmag.com/, March 19, 2020
By: Chistina Tuser

Recent testing shows the groundwater at Miami Dade College’s North Campus is contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

That water is treated and circulated throughout parts of Miami-Dade County. Despite the test results, the county says its tap water is safe to drink, reported the Miami New Times.

March 19, 2020

EPA fines mining company for failing to control dust at Arizona copper smelter

Source: https://www.azcentral.com/, March 18, 2020
By: Ian James

Federal environmental regulators have fined the mining company Asarco for failing to do enough to control hazardous dust at its copper smelter in southeastern Arizona.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that Asarco paid $33,000 in penalties. The agency said the company hadn’t complied with a plan to control windblown dust containing lead and other harmful pollutants at its smelter in Hayden, about 95 miles east of Phoenix. Read more.

March 16, 2020

Montana Supreme Court: BNSF Shares Liability For Libby Asbestos Contamination

Source: https://www.mtpr.org/, March 13, 2020
By: Aaron Bolton

The Montana Supreme Court ruled largely in favor of roughly 1,200 plaintiffs Wednesday that say BNSF railway should be held liable for its part in contaminating Libby with asbestos. But, the court didn’t outline exactly what activities the railway could be held liable for, and to what extent.

The Supreme Court found that federal regulations for railways and hazardous materials did not shield BNSF from some liability for the environmental disaster. The court unanimously ruled that the company must accept some responsibility and not completely point the finger at former vermiculite mine owner WR Grace. The ruling reaffirms a previous decision from the Libby Asbestos Court. Read more.