Duty To Defend PFAS MDL Lawsuits: Texas Federal Court Weighs In

Scales of justice

The US District Court for the Southern District of Texas found Crum & Forster had a duty to defend Chemicals, Inc. against firefighters’ allegations that they were injured by PFAS contained in AFFF.

August 10, 2021
Gregory S. Capps & Lynndon K. Groff - White and Williams LLP

Few courts have yet decided insurance coverage issues in litigation involving per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). But yesterday, in Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Company v. Chemicals, Inc., No. H-20-3493, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146702 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 5, 2021), the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas found Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Company (Crum & Forster) had a duty to defend Chemicals, Inc. against firefighters’ allegations that they were injured by PFAS contained in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). The AFFF claims are consolidated in the multi-district litigation (MDL) in South Carolina, and you can read more about that here.

Turning to the decision from August 5, 2021, Crum & Forster issued commercial general liability insurance policies to Chemicals, Inc. for liability arising from bodily injury, to the extent that injury “first occur[ed] during the ‘policy period[.]’” Further, a “Continuous or Progressive Damage or Injury” condition in the policies stated, “If the date cannot be determined upon which such ‘bodily injury’ … first occurred[,] then, … such ‘bodily injury’ … will be deemed to have occurred or existed, … before the ‘policy period’.” The Crum & Forster policies were issued between 2011 and 2019. The complaints in the MDL do not specify when the firefighters were allegedly exposed to PFAS-containing AFFF or when the firefighters first allegedly manifested symptoms of such exposure.

Reprinted courtesy of Gregory S. Capps, White and Williams LLP and Lynndon K. Groff, White and Williams LLP
Mr. Capps may be contacted at cappsg@whiteandwilliams.com
Mr. Groff may be contacted at groffl@whiteandwilliams.com



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