Sometimes it’s hard to feel fucking peaceful.
Insurance loophole claimed in fire deaths
Company says smoke that killed 3 was ‘pollution’
Wha – wha – what?
An insurance company with a potential $25 million liability from a 2007 Houston office fire is claiming smoke that killed three people was “pollution” and surviving families shouldn’t be compensated for their losses since the deaths were not caused directly by the actual flames.
Great American Insurance Company is arguing in a Houston federal court that the section of the insurance policy that excludes payments for pollution — like discharges or seepage that require cleanup — would also exclude payouts for damages, including deaths, caused by smoke, or pollution, that results from a fire.
Before we go on, I’d like to make a point: we will all be dead a whole lot longer than we are alive. I assume you’re alive, but you know what they say about assuming. A lot of people in every story believe in an afterlife in which they will have to explain their actions. Okay, continuing then –
Great American has asked U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to find that the deaths caused by the smoke, fumes and soot from the March 2007 fire set by a nurse working in the building will not be covered by the policy because there is a specific exclusion for pollution and it mentions smoke, fumes and soot.
“Listen, Saint Peter, I couldn’t not do it, right? Millions of dollars were at stake, not to mention our S&P rating. Plus, it had the merit of being practically diabolical – oops…”
In October, vocational nurse Misty Ann Weaver was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of felony murder and one count of first-degree arson for setting the fire to conceal that she had failed to complete paperwork on time.
Great American’s legal request, filed in late November and set for hearings in February, notes that there are four pending lawsuits against the property owners for wrongful death and injury, and contends that the insurance company should not have to pay on any of them.
Kevin Sewell, the Dallas lawyer who filed the request, did not return phone calls Tuesday afternoon. Great American spokeswoman Diane Weidner said company policy is to not comment on pending litigation.
“I can explain! Let me explain! See, the people were already dead, so it wasn’t like we were hurting them or anything, and who knows, maybe they really liked smoke. It’s tasty on ribs, am I right?”
Seth Chandler, a University of Houston Law Center professor who teaches insurance law, said while the insurance company’s maneuver wasn’t out of bounds, it will test the limits of the law.
“This is pushing the boundaries of the absolute pollution exclusion,” Chandler said. “We’re going to have a battle between the literal language of the policy and the way people speak of pollution.”
A question of semantics
He said the issue is an ongoing conversation between the courts and the insurance industry. Chandler said he doesn’t know of any other Texas cases on this issue. Nationwide, he said, even carbon monoxide poisoning has been found to be covered by insurance despite a pollution exclusion.
Despite this slightly-less-evil fucker’s assertion that it’s all words it is NOT all words. This is a question, as so many are, of common decency. That insurance companies employ vicious bastards is one of the main reasons insurance companies cannot be trusted, and there is nowhere where they prove it day in and day out like on the issue of healthcare. Frankly, the whole premise of health insurance doesn’t make any sense when insurance companies are for-profit since there’s no incentive to provide decent healthcare. There’s plenty of incentive to deny claims. Every denied claim is greater profit. We’re in sad shape, but there’s a glimmer of hope: the incoming administration has promised reform.
The Obama transition team is having people organize house parties to give their thoughts on health care reform. They are open, deliberative processes. So of course the insurance industry is seeking to sabotage them.
Now, about that brick…