A recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in New York has, according to published news reports, been responsible for the death of 12 people. According to those same reports, more than 100 other people have become ill as a result of the outbreak, which has been traced to a rooftop cooling tower(s).
For better or worse, when an outbreak of a disease occurs, lawsuits may soon follow. Indeed, recent news stories report that one individual who contracted Legionnaires’ disease in New York just sued the hotel where the outbreak allegedly began. According to published reports, that person is alleging that the hotel was “negligen[t], careless, and reckless.”
When such third-party lawsuits – relating to Legionnaires’ disease or some other disease – are filed against an insured, insurance coverage may be available under its commercial general liability (“CGL”) insurance policy(ies). CGL policies typically provide coverage for “damages” on account of “personal injuries” or “property damage.” Relying on various policy exclusions, insurers, however, may try to deny coverage for disease-related lawsuits. So, faced with such a suit, a policyholder should carefully review its policy(ies) and make sure its interests are adequately protected.
Legionnaires’ disease in particular has been at the center of a number of insurance-coverage disputes. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Legionnaires’ disease … is caused by a type of bacterium called Legionella …. The bacterium is named after a 1976 outbreak, when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion suffered from this disease, a type of pneumonia (lung infection).” Continue Reading