Larry D. Mason, a partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Global Insurance Services and Environmental Law practices, spoke with Law360 on emerging toxic emissions coverage disputes in Illinois. Specifically, the disputes have arisen with the question of insurers defending medical equipment manufacturers with alleged increased cancer diagnoses due to ethylene oxide, or EtO, in the process of manufacturing. This question coincides with concerns over whether certain exclusions of policies apply in relation to the chemical.
“I would think that we’ll see a rise in coverage litigation over this problem, especially if there’s traction from these kinds of cases,” Larry said. “The problem is that the insured is going after every single coverage it could possibly have because that’s the responsible thing to try to do, and it’s going to put everybody on notice.” This is in response to the proceedings of Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. Medline Industries Inc., one of the ongoing ethylene oxide disputes.
Larry also explored the disputers from the insurers’ side. “Insurers that have absolute pollution exclusions are going to assert that as their primary defense to any claim based on EtO exposure, period,” he explained to Law360 when discussing what insurers may do in corresponding litigation. “[T]hat’s the first defense and perhaps the best defense. The second one that’s presented is there’s no bodily injury alleged. This argument is made when there are only allegations of potential harm as opposed to actual injury.”
“Emerging Toxic Emissions Disputes Have All Eyes On Illinois,” Law360, February 16, 2022
Larry D. Mason is a renowned trial and appellate litigator and counselor to many national and international businesses across diverse industries. Based in Chicago but with experience litigating and counseling clients through complicated and high-profile matters across the country and internationally, he dedicates most of his practice to insurance coverage, reinsurance, commercial litigation, environmental and toxic torts, and complex insurance regulatory matters. He also focuses on professional liability for clients in insurance, environmental, construction, and related industries; products liability; and identifying emerging risks. He brings his extensive experience to leadership positions in the firm, where he is chair of the Environmental and Mass Torts Coverage, First-Party Property, and Construction Coverage subgroups.