Insurers Keep Wary Eye On School Kids’ Climate Lawsuit

By on April 11, 2018

April 11, 2018

Most industry observers are not paying much attention to a climate lawsuit in Oregon, where 21 teen-age students are suing the federal government. But the insurance industry is, according to a Reuters article appearing in Insurance Journal. One policy holder attorney says this case could be an early indicator of a wave of litigation – and insurance claims – similar to what we saw with asbestos and other environmental problems that were the subjects of litigation back in the 80s and 90s. Another attorney, a shareholder from a Ft. Lauderdale law firm, notes that in nearby Miami Beach about once every 90 days they are getting a “a real special high high-tide” that’s putting parts of the city under water. He sees a trend developing, one that could accelerate if the Oregon lawsuit is successful, whereby more and more people will look to the courts for relief as sea levels rise. The article notes that, according to a U.N. study, worldwide there are nearly 900 climate change lawsuits in 25 countries. Another Insurance Journal article reports that in the Oregon matter three powerful trade groups were on the verge of intervening out of concern that the outcome could result in tighter government regulations, but they backed off because they could not agree on a unified position. The three trade groups are The American Petroleum Institute (API), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). “One issue for the industry groups,” according to the Reuters article, “is that laying out in court the scientific findings they accept on climate change could bind them to specific positions in other legal proceedings.”

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