• A manufacturer began expansion of a production line area. During excavation, oily soils with a petroleum odor were discovered. Further investigation uncovered an old, undocumented sludge drying pit, which the previous owner used back in the 1940’s. The manufacturer had to remove and remediate the soils at his expense. Cleanup costs exceeded $400,000.
  • Buyers of a condominium in a former factory building sued the builder of the unit as well as the realtors that sold them the unit (their sellers’ agent). The condominium had been built on land that had been contaminated by trichloroethylene (aka TCE – a known carcinogen). The property developers had put down a vapor barrier, however, it was alleged that the property had never been properly decontaminated. The buyers were led to believe, through newspaper articles and sales brochures, that the site had been decontaminated so they purchased the property without conducting extensive due diligence. A jury found the realtor and builder guilty of fraud and misrepresentation. It also found the buyers of the condo partially at fault for their failure to conduct appropriate due diligence. (Alfieri v. Bertorelli, 2011 Mich. Ct. App. 10/18/11)
  • An aerosol packaging plant located on a 17-acre site manufactured hair spray, spot remover and oven cleaner. The facility is near a river that runs through a neighboring town. The town discovered contamination in their municipal water supplies and was forced to close their wells. The town sued the packaging plant and settled for $780,000.
  • A fire started in a large landfill from decomposing waste. The fire burned and smoldered for several weeks, fueled by a variety of wastes and the lack of an adequate methane venting system at the landfill. Hot ashes, billowing clouds and a lingering haze of smoke and soot spoiled hundreds of acres of surrounding agricultural crops. The ensuring negligence claimed property damage and loss of income amounting to $1.7 million.
  • A dry cleaning operation dumped toxic chemicals into the soil and contaminated a shopping mall’s water supply. Even though the contamination happened over a period of time and filters were installed within the water supply system to remove contaminants, it was determined that the pollution continued to contaminate the water. Damages of $1.3 million were sought in a lawsuit to cover the cost of constructing and operating a permanent new water supply system to serve the affected area.
  • A development company hired an environmental consultant to conduct a site investigation on property it was considering purchasing. The purpose of the investigation was for the development company to qualify for an “innocent landowner defense” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and to identify any contaminants on the property that might indicate a release had occurred. The environmental consultant completed his investigation and reported no “recognized environmental conditions”. The development company purchased the property and subsequently found a significant amount of construction debris that included several 55-gallon drums and part of an underground storage tank. The development company filed suit against the consultant for breach of contract and negligence. The consulting company sued its insurer for not providing defense under its policy, however, since the policy had a pollution exclusion, the courts sided with the insurance carrier and the consulting company was left to pay for defense on their own. (James River Ins. Co. v. Ground Down Eng’g, Inc., 11th, 08/20/2008)
  • Employees of a California newspaper filed suit against the owner of their building seeking $10 million for illnesses resulting from exposure to several types of toxic mold.
  • A real estate firm acquired land that they were planning to develop a shopping mall. They contacted an environmental consulting company to comply with state environmental due diligence requirements. After conducting an investigation, the environmental consulting company told the developer that there were no “recognized environmental concerns” on their site. When the real estate firm started to break ground for the new development, they discovered several waste piles on their property. The cost to remediate the waste piles was over $250,000.
  • Rising floodwaters in the Midwest USA mixed with over 75,000 gallons of crude oil from a nearby refinery, causing extensive damage to local businesses, farms and residents. The crude oil overflowed from a holding tank which has reached capacity. A class action lawsuit is currently pending.
  •  A fire broke out in a medical office facility, which resulted in toxic fumes being emitted into the air. The insured was sued by nearby third parties and had no coverage nor defense via their General Liability policy. The lawsuit has not yet settled; meanwhile the insured has spent over $80,000 in defense costs
  • An Ohio hotel manager sued the hotel owners, alleging that he experienced adverse health effects subsequent to participating in remediation of toxic mold in the hotel.
  • Faulty equipment caused the release of toxic chlorine gas into the air. Only after employees and local residents suffered physical ailments, was the leak discovered, and the mill was sued.
  • At a brewery, an ammonia gas leak in the Refrigeration System occurred. Local Residents and employees who were evacuated sued for bodily injury. Local businesses that had to be evacuated sued for business interruption.
  • Toxic Fumes were released from a manufacturing plant when an accidental release from drums of acid and drums of caustic chemicals occurred. The fumes spread into the atmosphere and over a plant nursery, causing the plants to die. The nursery sued the plant for business interruption and loss of goods.
  • A fire ignited in a plant, sending hazardous vapors into the atmosphere, and hazardous liquids into the soil. A class action lawsuit was filed in the community for health problems, and property damage from firewater runoff. The plant also had to pay for the remediation of the site and surrounding properties.
  • A company sued a fast food chain, claiming that a property that they were going to purchase from the fast food chain for office space was contaminated. The $23 million transaction was stalled as a result of the company conducting an inspection of the property and finding substantial environmental problems, including benzene, lead, and trichloroethylene (TCE) at the property. The suit sought $500,000 as earnest money in addition to legal fees and other costs that were spent on transactional costs.
  • At a tire recycling facility, solvents that had been stored onsite leached into the ground and contaminated the water supply for a neighboring community. The community sued to recover costs for the design, construction and maintenance of a groundwater treatment plant to protect their water supply.
  • An off-site disposal facility for the batteries of golf carts was not in compliance with state and federal regulations. The golf course was held jointly liable for the pollution cleanup costs at the battery disposal site.
  • A large dairy farm’s generation of wastewater exceeded the farm’s permit requirements. Over a million gallons of wastewater, containing animal waste, was accidentally released into the surrounding area. Cleanup costs and fines exceeded $300,000, with third party claims still pending.

 

While the coverages we offer are designed to address these general issues, we make no guarantee or warranty that any individual policy we offer will respond to all issues as described herein. Please refer to the actual policy wording in each offered form to determine coverage applicability and acceptability. In the event your client applies for coverage and we offer terms, please review those terms carefully to determine if all of your client’s exposures are being addressed. In some instances, more than one policy or type of coverage may be necessary.