Firm-Wide blog

Insurer’s Over-Reaching Use of Pollution Exclusion Allowed by Colorado Supreme Court

By Burg Simpson
March 20, 2013
2 min read

The Colorado Supreme Court last month agreed with an insurance company’s argument that the pollution exclusion in a liability policy applied to cooking grease.

Two sewer workers were badly hurt when they were overcome by toxic fumes that resulted from sewer water that was clogged by cooking grease that had been dumped into the sewer by a restaurant. Looking for a way to deny coverage for the judgment obtained by the injured workers against the restaurant, the insurance company claimed the pollution exclusion applied. The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with the insurance company, and reversed the decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Cooking Grease Is a Pollutant?

Never underestimate the insurance company’s desire to search high and low to find a reason to deny a claim. Here, cooking grease became a “pollutant” and two victims are denied fair compensation for their injuries because of this result.

To minimize the potential of falling victim to the insurance company’s clever tactics, it is smart to have an attorney who knows insurance policies and insurance company tricks review the claims made in the original complaint. Sometimes this can be the difference between getting compensation for the injured victim or getting zero recovery. When carefully pled, the insurance company runs the risk of acting in bad faith if it denies coverage in the face of covered claims.

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