Protect Your Business
After years of experience and many lessons learned (sometimes the hard way), new regulations have been implemented in the industry along with better business decisions to help improve things moving forward. Click below to read some of the uncovered pollution events that CERC aims to prevent from happening again and help protect contractors like you.
Fungus & Dust from Construction Zone
A general contractor was responsible for overseeing the renovation of a hospital wing. When two patients died in the intensive care unit adjacent to the construction zone, the contractor was sued for inadequate monitoring and containment of the construction zone. The patients' cause of death was determined to be an organic fungus found in the ventilation system and traced back to dust generated during renovation activities in the construction zone. The contractor was responsible for $10 million in damages.
Two years after the completion of a new high school, it was determined that the window system used during construction was allowing water to infiltrate the building. Mold was discovered as a result of the faulty installation. The sub-contractor who installed the windows was no longer in business, causing remediation costs to be shared by the General Contractor and the manufacturer of the windows. As a result of the General Contractor not having pollution coverage for mold, they paid over $900,000.
Following construction at a Florida hospital, Legionnaire's disease broke out in the medical tower, and multiple lawsuits were filed against the hospital. The local health department confirmed one patient's death from the outbreak and noted 10 others who contracted the disease. The cause was traced to the plumbing system in the new tower.
Bodily Injury & Property Damage Resulting from Contracting Work
A contractor was subject to indemnity and defense costs exceeding $500,000 from sewage migrating into residential wells in a residential community. During sewer installation, a subcontractor improperly connected piping, resulting in sewage leaking into the ground. Raw sewage migrated into the underlying groundwater and contaminated residential wells. Bodily injury and property damage claims were subsequently ﬁled.
A general contractor was renovating an elementary school. During the course of work, dust from concrete cutting set off the fire alarms during the week-long operation. Parents of the students filed a claim against the general contractor for bodily injury due to fear of contracting silicosis.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
An electrical sub-contractor was updating the wiring in a dormitory for a general contractor when an oily substance, which was identified as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), was discovered. Several workers were splashed by the oil. Subsequently, the workers were advised to dispose of home washers and dryers and the front seats of their cars.
A general contractor (GC) installed new carpeting in an office building. One week after installation, the building owner informed the contractor that employees were complaining of headaches and dizziness. This was attributed to the odors from the new carpets. The general contractor could not prove that the manufacturer of the carpet or the carpet adhesive was responsible; thus, the contractor was left with the claim. The GC filed a claim with their general liability carrier. The claim was denied due to the fact that hazardous materials such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds associated with the carpeting and adhesives are pollutants.
Protect Business Partners
A restaurant was subject to cleanup costs and business interruption expenses when a contractor they hired for an addition ruptured an unmarked petroleum pipeline. The contractor did not have Contractors Pollution Liability insurance, so as the property owner, the restaurant was responsible. Total costs exceeded $700,000. Lawsuits filed against the contractor caused the contractor's bankruptcy.
Due to the failure of a previously built dam, the developer at a large resort expansion project inadvertently discharged fill into a nearby tributary, causing a large amount of sediment to be released downstream. Pursuant to a governmental order, the developer was responsible for all costs associated with the assessment, clean-up and restoration of the tributary.
Natural Resource Damage
A road painting crew's vehicle overturned and spilled hundreds of gallons of yellow paint over an embankment and into a creek. Hazmat crews were called to assess cleanup options and natural resource damage to aquatic life.
Death Caused by Carbon Monoxide
A plumbing contractor was hired to replace a faulty water heater at a private residence. During the installation, the plumbing company's technician failed to properly reconnect the natural gas line to the water heater. The elderly couple in the home died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and their heirs and estate sued the plumbing contractor for $3 million in damages alleging negligence. The plumbing contractor immediately filed a claim with their General Liability carrier, with whom they had been insured for more than 25 years. Eventually, the carrier denied the claim under the Total Pollution Exclusion, claiming that what had actually caused the bodily injury - in this case death - was the release of a pollutant, natural gas.
Property Owner Losses
A property owner expanding their facility hired a paving contractor. The contractor sprayed an oil-based binding layer on crushed aggregate with the intentions of completing the asphalt parking and drive area the next day. A heavy overnight rain caused the binding layer to run off into groundwater supply, contaminating residential wells. Total clean up costs exceeded $500,000.