South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Asbestos Diseases Not Covered by Accident Insurance
Description Appeals court affirmed that a policy held by an employer that covered “bodily injury by accident” did not apply to asbestos-related diseases suffered by workers.
Topic Insurance
Key Words Workers’ Compensation; Excess Coverage; Asbestos
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Riverwood bought Excess Workers’ Compensation and Employers’ Liability policies from Wausau from 1974 to 1984. After 2000, a number of former workers sued Riverwood for damages from asbestos-related diseases allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos while working at a Riverwood facility. The claims were settled for $1.5 million. Riverwood sued Wausau for contribution since the claims extended back to the 1974-84 period. The policy covers “bodily injury by disease.” The trial court held for Wausau. Riverwood appealed.

Affirmed. While the term “bodily injury by accident” is ambiguous, it is not reasonable to assert that asbestos-related diseases are covered under that term. A disease is not an accident.

Citation Riverwood International Corp. v. Employers Insurance of Wausau, 420 F.3d 378 (5th Cir., 2005)

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