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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Hartford Insurance Company Throws Peanut Corporation of America Under the Bus

Talk about kicking a guy when he is down?  Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) is facing lawsuits, criminal sanctions and a Congressional hearing and then Hartford today files a Declaratory Judgment Action against it.  Frankly, I read this suit several times and still do not see what the fight is about.  Bottom line – its about money – PCA paid premiums for insurance, then it poisons over 500 people, hospitalizes 125 and kills 8, and Hartford does not want to pay for it.  More to come I am sure.  Click on below to download suit:

  • I don’t believe that insurers are required to pay claims that are the result of illegal activities, and that would include violation of federal or state food safety and worker safety regulations. If what we read in news accounts is true, then PCA knowingly falsified records in order to ship contaminated products, and knowlingly operated a facility that was not in complience with federal food safety regulations. Why should The Hartford be liable for coverage for these acts? The fine print in the policy ptobably excludes illegal acts. However, The Hartford should have used better loss control to identify PCA as an undesirable account and either help it to clean up its act, or drop it at renewal.

  • Not a surprising action, but the complaint could be used as a text book example of Rule 12(e) vagueness. I expect PCA will be filing a motion to strike and/or motion for more definite statement.

  • One of my colleagues commented when I showed Hartford’s pleading around,
    “Wow. That is a pretty lame Dec action pleading.”

  • freelunch

    Jury trial? Are they serious?
    It makes sense to sort out the limits of liability before these cases come to court, but I cannot imagine how Hartford benefits from a jury trial.
    If I were Hartford, I would just deposit the entire limit with the court and save some money.

  • Laura

    Kicking a guy when he’s down?? Are you serious??
    This company knowingly shipped out poisened products and the insurance company is supposed to take the fall for it? Oh Please! That is not the intent of having insurance.
    Can you go out an run someone over with your car and have your auto insurance pay for it? Not likey, that is called a CRIMINAL ACTION!
    I know you think the big bad insurance company is trying to get out of a claim but this company is a big bad company who I am sure had made millions of dollars over the years. And look what they’ve done to their customers.
    Your article is so way out of line it’s not even funny ..

  • I am just wondering why the people at PCA who made the judgments of not keeping the place clean and shipping the cintaminated products are not in jail?
    Criminal behavior should not allow the upper managemennt to escape civil penalities and personal liability for the victims. I suppose the insurance company needs to hire an outside lab to insure complaince with FDA regulations and testing to maintain coverage? The victims deserve compensation, but the insurance company is not the fall guy.

  • James Hamilton/Shomo

    When a company knowingly ignores food handling regulations they indeed are entering into opportunity for a calamity of some nature. The insurance company is the help that can come when an accident or measured potential of possible disaster occurs. Ignoring safe food manufactoring conditions is not an accident it is a calamity that will happen.

  • James Hamilton/Shomo

    If I were a lawyer on behaf of the victims I would of course defer initialy to any opportunity of compensation from existing insurance coverage but would pursue action above normal liability of product and find or argue fault to PCA for ignoring standards for safe food processing. I don’t believe insurance in normaly written for blatant health hazards as described by certian investigators. FDA and all of us rely upon the integrity of our food providers.