Appeals Court Clears The Hartford on Most BP Oil Spill Cleanup Workers’ Injury Claims

Appeals Court Clears The Hartford on Most BP Oil Spill Cleanup Workers’ Injury Claims

Navigators Insurance, part of The Hartford, does not have to cover most medical and injury claims from 2,000 workers who cleaned beaches after the 2010 BP oil spill cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico, a federal appeals court decided Wednesday.

In a case that centered on a new type of legal claim for latent injuries, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found that BP was, in fact, an additional insured that could be covered by policies held by a cleanup company. But two insurance policies could not be combined to satisfy the minimum amount specified in a contract between BP and O’Brien’s Response Management, the court said.

That means that Navigators may have to cover only about $2 million, not the $100 million that BP oil spill had demanded.

Also, the cleanup subcontractor is not required to fully indemnify BP because BP materially breached its indemnification provision on what the courts have called “back-end litigation option” claims. The 5th Circuit noted that BP had broken its contract with O’Brien’s by creating the BELO claims without its consent as part of a 2012 settlement after the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling accident.

BP Deepwater Horizon after explosion in 2010 (Photo- U.S. Coast Guard)

The appeals court’s three-judge panel also affirmed the dismissal of a subset of BP oil spill  claims against O’Brien’s, and remanded others to the lower court, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, for further proceedings.

After BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, millions of barrels of crude oil gushed into the Gulf. Much of it ended up on beaches and waterways across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Cleanup workers who were hired to clean the gunk from coastal areas months later reported a variety of chronic and acute illnesses. Some workers said that they were not given adequate safety gear or warnings about the toxicity of the oil.

The BELO procedure was created for the cleanup workers whose injuries were diagnosed after the initial BP oil spill settlement, and who chose not to pursue workers’ compensation claims, or for which the statutes of limitations had expired.

Attorneys for Navigators in the case referred calls to The Hartford. Officials there could not be reached Thursday morning.

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The majority opinion was written by U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Jones. Judge James Graves dissented.

“In my view, O’Brien’s is not required to indemnify BP on any claims because BP failed to give reasonably practicable prompt notice to O’Brien’s,” Graves wrote. “I would therefore affirm the district court on this issue as well.”

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In her new role, Miller will oversee Lloyd’s global network across the Americas, Europe, APAC and MEA and will be responsible for distribution, market development, global engagement with brokers and new entrants. She will also be responsible for innovation at Lloyd’s, including the Lloyd’s Lab.

Miller has more than 20 years of experience working in the global insurance industry with oversight of underwriting, distribution, clients, and strategy, including leadership positions at AXA, AIG and Willis. Having started her career in Washington D.C., Miller has since taken on senior positions in London, New York, Paris, Dubai, San Francisco and Zurich.

“I am delighted to welcome Dawn to Lloyd’s and my senior management team. Dawn has exceptional international experience and knowledge across a wide range of business areas which will be critical in leading the commercial team at Lloyd’s,” commented Tiernan. “She has a deep understanding of how a true global ecosystem operates and will play an invaluable role in driving the Lloyd’s market forward to deliver our strategic priorities.”

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Chubb Promotes Meyer to Switzerland Country President, Makes Central Region Leadership Changes

Chubb announced the appointment of Nathalie Meyer as country president for Switzerland.

In this role, Meyer will be responsible for Chubb’s property and casualty, accident and health, and consumer lines operations across Switzerland.

Nathalie Meyer

Previously the country’s Middle Market, SME and Industry Practices Segment leader, Meyer replaces Dawn Miller, outgoing regional executive officer [REO] for Central Region and country president for Switzerland, who is becoming commercial director at Lloyd’s. (See previous appointment).

Meyer joined Chubb in 2008 and has held a variety of senior roles in Switzerland, including financial lines manager. She will begin transitioning into her new role from Feb. 1 and will work with Miller to ensure a smooth handover.

Subject to regulatory approval, Meyer will assume full responsibilities as country president in due course.

In a related move, Nikolay Dmitriev is appointed regional executive officer for Chubb’s Central Region of CEMENA, which covers Switzerland, Turkey, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Pakistan, Tunisia and Chubb’s joint venture in Saudi Arabia.

In this role, Dmitriev will be responsible for executing the underwriting and sales strategies of Chubb’s business units, staff management, production, profit and loss, and distribution management in the Central Region, which is one of the insurer’s five CEMENA regions. In addition to his REO duties, Dmitriev will continue in his current role as Country President for Russia and will remain based there for the time being.

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In a further regional change, Christian Graber is promoted to Commercial Lines regional executive officer – Central. Graber joined Chubb in 2003 and was most recently in charge of Commercial Lines for Switzerland.

The appointments of Dmitriev and Graber are also effective Feb. 1.

Dmitriev will report to Sara Mitchell, division president Continental Europe, Middle East and Africa. Meyer and Graber will report to Dmitriev.

“Switzerland is a hugely important part of our business both strategically and also from a market perspective, and I am delighted that we have been able to appoint Nathalie as our new country president. She is well-known and highly respected within and outside of Chubb for her expertise and insights which will help her bring a dynamic approach to better serve our broker partners and customers,” said Mitchell.

“Nikolay and Christian are seasoned professionals with a demonstrable track record of success in their previous roles which makes them perfectly placed to take on their new leadership positions in our Central Region, which is a very diverse market covering eight countries with many different languages and cultures,” she added.


WTW Hires Aon’s Weda as Benelux Head of Corporate Risk & Broking

Insurance broker WTW announced Stefan Weda as the leader of its Corporate Risk & Broking (CRB) business for the Benelux countries.

Stefan Weda

Weda starts his new role on May 1 and will be responsible for accelerating growth in the CRB markets across Benelux, and for leading the overall Benelux CRB business strategy and operational transformation.

He joins from Aon, where he has held a series of senior leadership positions across a 23-year career there, including his most recent post as chief commercial officer for Aon’s Commercial Risk, Health & Wealth business in the Netherlands. His previous roles include chief broking officer and managing director of Global Accounts.

Weda will also take up the role of head of CRB for WTW Netherlands. Catherine Lesourd will add the role of head of CRB for WTW Belgium to her current role as head of CRB for WTW Luxembourg.


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