26
Sep
2011

Reaction to the Recent Climate Change Insurance Coverage Decision by the Virginia Supreme Court

LexisNexis Insurance Law Community

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PUBLISHED ON: September 26, 2011

The September 16 decision in Virginia allowing a subsidiary of Zurich to avoid its duty to defend a climate-change related claim is ironic. On the one hand, anthropogenic links to climate change are the subject of considerable political debate. As I understand it, however, the majority of federal elected officials identify as skeptics on this issue. Nonetheless and on the other hand, the Virginia Supreme Court has now held that the alleged "damages [the plaintiff] sustained were the natural and probable consequences of [the defendant policyholder's] intentional emissions." Accordingly, because the injury alleged did not arise from an Accident or Occurrence there was no possibility of coverage and, therefore, no duty to defend. However, if anthropogenic climate change is a myth, then the plaintiff's claims are frivolous and protection against frivolous claims is a significant part of why companies buy liability insurance in the first place. It seems like the Court took all of the plaintiff's allegations as true in conducting its coverage analysis.

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