Our Orlando Insurance Attorneys Win Insurance Coverage Case
Our Orlando insurance lawyers represented a family from England whose father died as a result of contracting Legionnaires’ disease from a hotel hot tub that was infected with the Legionella bacteria.
Our firm fought the case against the hotel and obtained a settlement that provided for compensation if the federal courts ruled that there was insurance coverage. The insurance company for the hotel had denied insurance coverage. The insurance company claimed that the infested hot tub and Legionella bacteria in the hot tub were pollution and therefore not covered. They denied the coverage, claiming that Legionella bacteria were excluded under policy provisions involving pollution and bacteria claims.
The insurance company filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to have the courts rule that there was no insurance coverage. The federal court ruled in favor of our client and ruled that, as one might expect, Legionella bacteria is not pollution and that the bacteria exclusions did not apply to this type of a claim.
Insurance Companies Use Devious Methods to Avoid Paying Claims
The position taken by the insurance company was ludicrous. Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring bacteria that grow in Florida and in other places with warm water without any type of pollution. When the insurance company called it “pollution,” it was merely trying to deny insurance coverage for an injury that was clearly provided for under the policy. While there was a bacteria exclusion under the policy, the bacteria exclusion did not apply to the outdoor hot tub. Further, there was an exception to the exclusion that exempted the bacteria exclusion when illness or injury resulted from bacteria that was consumed. Our law firm successfully argued that the bacteria were consumed because it was contained within the hot tub water that is consumed in the course of its use. When one flushes the toilet or takes a shower, one consumes water. When water is put into a hot tub and vaporized, the water is consumed. If a Legionella bacterium is transmitted to somebody who breathes in the hot tub vapors and it causes Legionnaires’ Disease, then that is consumption of the water and therefore there is no valid exclusion.
Insurance Company Appeals the Decision
After the trial court ruled in our client’s favor, the insurance company appealed Federal Circuit Court. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of our client. The court held that the hotel’s claims regarding the exposure of Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease were valid under the policy that it purchased. The insurance company’s attempt to exclude these claims was incorrect. The court ruled that there is insurance coverage for exposure to Legionella bacteria if someone contracted Legionnaires’ disease from a hotel hot tub.
The moral of the story is twofold. Watch out when you go to a hotel because the hotel may have water infested with Legionella bacteria that can expose hotel customers to the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease, especially in warm climates. Legionnaires disease is a dangerous disease that can cause serious injury or death. Second lesson learned is that insurance companies many times will do whatever they can to deny insurance coverage.
If your insurance company refuses to comply with your valid claim, contact our Orlando insurance attorneys today. We know the tactics insurance companies routinely use when attempting to save money, and we know how to hold them accountable for the money they owe you. As a former defense attorney for insurance companies, Thomas L. Dennis has firsthand knowledge of these techniques – and how to refute them. Call 1-800-235-7060 today to schedule your free consultation.