Hurricane Katrina

October 18, 2013

Mississippi Court holds pollution exclusion applicable to Chinese drywall claim

Source:, October 15, 2013
By: Brian Margolies, Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP

In its recent decision in Prestige Properties, Inc. v. National Builders and Contractors Ins. Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146738 (S.D. Miss. Oct. 10, 2013), the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi had occasion to consider the application of a total pollution exclusion in a general liability policy to underlying claims involving Chinese-manufactured drywall.

The insured, Prestige Properties, was a Mississippi contractor hired to perform repairs on a client’s home that had been damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Part of these repairs involved replacing damaged drywall. Prestige later was named as a defendant in the Chinese drywall multidistrict litigation pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Prestige’s client alleged that Prestige had used defective Chinese manufactured drywall in their home and that the drywall resulted in bodily injury (eye irritation, nausea, respiratory ailments, etc.) and property damage (corrosion and damage to appliances, wiring and object with metal surfaces).…

December 14, 2012

Environmental concerns as mounds of debris scatter the Shore

Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ), December 4, 2012
Posted on:

The pile of storm debris loomed nearly two stories high in Sea Bright. Cranes worked through the afternoon one Sunday to sort the sodden, moldy refuse.

A month after superstorm Sandy flooded homes along the New Jersey Shore, piles of destroyed appliances and mud-soaked mattresses dot coastal streets. Wood, gypsum wallboard and soaked pink insulation line curbs in many communities. In parking lots, piles of rubble larger than houses are circled by sea gulls. Billions in dollars in material lay rotting and molding in the giant trash piles.

Managing the debris has proved to be a mammoth task. Towns and counties have hired waste disposal companies as municipal public works departments are overwhelmed by the daunting task.

Small garbage piles are moved to one of about 125 “temporary debris management areas” in New Jersey, said Larry Hajna, a spokesman of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The giant mounds are placed on “environmentally responsible areas,” such as abandoned sites or parking lots, he said. There, the debris is sorted, hazardous waste removed and recyclable items collected, he said.

At one debris management area along Route 70 in Brick, the sound of cranes sorting and dropping garbage boomed through a quiet neighborhood on Thursday. Matt German and his wife Susan watched the work from their front yard.

“It’s a lot of people’s lives right there,” Matt German, 50, said as he peered at the story-high mound.…

December 6, 2012

Beazley Underwriter: Hurricane Sandy Highlights Need for Environmental Risk Coverage

Source: BestWire Services, November 21, 2012
Posted on:

Even now, weeks after Hurricane Sandy battered much of the East Coast of the United States, the storm is causing damage to some of the hardest hit areas in New York and New Jersey. As John Beauchamp of Beazley Group points out, Sandy’s devastation not only leveled homes and businesses, it also paved the way for environmental risks that could be felt long after the region returns to a semblance of its former self.

Beauchamp, who leads Beazley’s environmental underwriting business, said the hurricane’s environmental risks are varied and likely to affect areas that businesses often don’t consider.

Beazley said damaged fuel and chemical facilities across the Northeast have reported major spills that could leave them open to litigation. Widespread flooding caused by Sandy, which overwhelmed sewer systems, is likely to spread bacterial infections across the Northeast. And where there is flooding, there’s also the risk of mold that can shutter businesses for weeks or even months.

“We’re not downplaying the loss of life and property caused by Sandy,” Beauchamp said. “But Sandy has also brought attention to environmental risks that can remain a problem for a long time after the initial cleanup is finished. Once things dry out, people are going to see that there are a lot of liability areas that are going to have to be addressed going forward.”

Beauchamp said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has received reports of more than 400 environmental incidents and that more are likely to come to light.…

June 22, 2011

Insurers of New Orleans Housing Project Offers to Settle Claims

Read here about a $65.5 million offered by insurers of the New Orleans’ public housing authority to settle claims.…

July 23, 2010

Initial Testing Confirms Suspect Material in Chinese-Made Drywall

The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Chinese-made drywall, suspected of causing serious problems in homes in Florida, Louisiana and several other states, contains three materials not found in US-manufactured wallboard. The testing was done at the request of Senators from Florida and Louisiana, where investigations have been launched into complaints from homeowners whose drywall smells like rotten eggs, is causing corrosion of household appliances and wiring, and is believed to be creating health problems like asthma, headaches and insomnia. The EPA insists that further tests are needed to confirm whether the
Chinese-manufactured drywall is indeed the cause of these issues. The potential scope of the problem is significant. An estimated 36,000 homes in Florida are believed to contain the problematic material, with as many as an additional 100,000 homes nationwide impacted. In addition, much of the drywall used in post-Katrina construction in Louisiana was Chinese-made.…