The RISC eNews Blast is intended to provide relevant and timely news information from a number of sources to member pool staff. If you see articles in the journals, email and sources you subscribe to that may be of interest to the RISC membership, please feel free to forward them to Erin Rian for inclusion in the eNews Blast. In this week's edition of the RISC eNews Blast:
NY town rescinds fracking 'gag order' after sued (The Chronicle, 4/19/2013): The New York town of Sanford has rescinded its September resolution, which prohibited discussion of fracking at its meetings because the debate had become disruptive. However, the town reserves the right to limit speakers to three minutes. Two environmental organizations that sued the town for the September resolution have withdrawn their lawsuits.
Fracking not a significant earthquake risk: Researchers (Business Insurance, 4/12/2013): A study in England concluded that fracking is not a “significant mechanism” in causing earthquakes, and that the energy released during fracking related events is minor and not likely to be felt. However, the study also concluded that fracking can reactivate dormant faults, and suggested that the drilling industry avoid critically stressed faults.
PROPERTY & CASUALTY
Terrorism or Mere Explosion? (Property Casualty 360, 4/18/2013): Explosions such as the ones at the Boston Marathon would typically be covered under most insurance policies. However, if the policy includes a terrorism exclusion and the requirements are met by the event, coverage might be excluded. Often these exclusions require that a “Certified Act of Terrorism” be certified by the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State and the U.S. Attorney General.
Boston Marathon Bomb Victims May Turn to BAA Insurance, Central Fund for Compensation (Claims Journal, 4/18/2013): State and city officials have established a victim compensation fund for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. The terms of the fund have not yet been established, but it will be operated by a Boston law firm.
Wisconsin May Join States with Social Media Privacy Laws (Governing, 4/22/2013): Wisconsin is considering a bill that would block employers, landlords and universities from pressuring candidates to provide access to private social media. In exchange, the bill would also provide that employers and others have no duty to check personal social media, and are not liable for failing to do so.
Sirens put firefighters at greater risk for hearing loss, experts say (TribLive, 4/24/2013): Four Pittsburgh firefighters have filed a lawsuit against manufacturers of sirens and fire trucks, alleging that those products are “inherently dangerous defective and hazardous to human hearing” and responsible for their hearing loss. One of the more disturbing aspects is that hearing losses are preventable with ear protection, but that protection may not be regularly used by firefighters or provided by fire companies.
Police Look to Expand Connecticut Workers’ Comp Law (Claims Journal, 4/22/2013): A police union is seeking to extend workers’ compensation benefits to first responders who suffer mental illness after witnessing the death or maiming, or immediate aftermath of a death or maiming, of at least one person.
Firefighters’ Workers’ Comp Insurance is Taxing Pennsylvania Municipalities (Claims Journal, 4/16/2013): The Firefighter Cancer Presumption Act received nearly unanimous support in the state legislature in July 2011, but fire departments are struggling to find affordable coverage. Robert Anspach, director of insurance services for NLC-RISC member PennPrime, says that insurers were told that few claims would be made under the statute, but that is not the case. Higher rates are required to build up the funds required to pay the claims. Anspach suggested that premiums could be brought under control by limiting the cancers eligible for claims, giving municipalities more control over volunteer companies, and reducing the time within which a claim can be filed to 300 weeks after service.
OTHER TOPICS OF INTEREST
Why didn't 2,400 tons of ammonium nitrate at West plant raise concerns? (Dallas Morning News, 4/23/2013): A report from the Dallas Morning News concludes that there was no effective regulatory scrutiny for fertilizer fire and explosion risks at the West Fertilizer Company. A discussion with the operators about simple safeguards such as isolating the fertilizer from potential sources of ignition and installing a water system to cool the fertilizer before it could explode might have averted the disaster.
City apologizes for inadvertent release of employee SSNs (Berkleyside, 4/22/2013): Inappropriate disclosures of private information do not just occur in cyberspace. A Berkeley, California staff member mistakenly disclosed the social security numbers of all city employees to a news organization in response to a Public Records Act request. Employees were not notified until two weeks after the city realized what had happened, which was roughly two weeks after the disclosure occurred.
Supreme Court Rejects Class Plaintiff’s Attempt To Avoid Federal Court By Stipulation Damages Will Be Less Than $5,000,000 (Mondaq, 4/19/2013): A plaintiff who brings a class action suit cannot use the federal Class Action Fairness Act to avoid federal court by stipulating that he will not seek damages in excess of $5,000,000. The Supreme Court held that the plaintiff’s proposed stipulation did not speak for the other members of the class before it was certified. The opinion is available here.
U.S. Department of Justice Enters into Settlement Agreement with Jacksonville, Florida Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA.gov, 4/22/2013): The U.S. Department of Justice has entered into a Title II settlement with the City of Jacksonville to ensure better access to city services by people with disabilities. The agreement was reached under the DOJ’s Project Civic Access.
Laws Limiting Drones Gaining Steam (Governing, 4/22/2013): Virginia has passed a two-year moratorium on the use of drones by police and regulatory agencies, and Idaho is requiring police to obtain warrants before using drones over homes, businesses or fields. Florida has a bill awaiting the governor’s signature. Montana and Tennessee are considering legislation. The ACLU says that legislation that would limit drone activity is active in 29 state legislatures. States are moving to enact privacy legislation even as they are competing to be one of six Federal Aviation Administration test sites for drone integration.
Boston Terror Attack 'Bound to Have Impact' on Event Cancellation Coverage (Property Casualty 360, 4/16/2013): The high profile terrorist attack in Boston may affect the cost and availability of event cancellation coverage. In writing and pricing special event coverage for their members, pools should also consider the implications of a similar attack at a small public event in one of their member municipalities. Often looked at as relatively low risk, municipal special events could produce very large losses if targeted by a terrorist. Pools may want to look at how immunity, tort caps and their coverage language would affect potential losses in their state.