Alterra Balks at Defending NFL in Concussion Suits

By Young Ha | August 16, 2012

Alterra American Insurance Company is arguing that it is not obligated to defend or indemnify its insured — the National Football League and NFL Properties L.L.C. — against concussion-related lawsuits brought by former NFL players and their families.

Alterra filed its court papers Monday with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, in a civil action seeking declaratory relief.

Alterra stated in its filing that “An actual controversy of a justiciable nature presently exists between the plaintiff and the defendants concerning the property construction of the Alterra policy and the rights and obligations of the parties. The controversy is of sufficient immediacy to justify the issuance of a declaratory judgment.”

The underlying actions involve thousands of former NFL players and allegations that they sustained neurological injuries during their playing careers. The players claim that their neurological injuries were caused by, among other things, the NFL’s negligence and fraud.

The majority of lawsuits filed by former NFL players and their families since July 2011 have been transferred and consolidated into a case — called “NFL Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation” — in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Alterra’s court filing states that so far, the New York-based NFL has sought defense and indemnification from Alterra for nearly 100 underlying actions — concussion-related lawsuits filed by former NFL players, including notable players such as Jamal Lewis, Jeff Hostetler, Mark Chmura, Art Monk and Bob Kuechenberg.

Alterra states in the court filing that it issued an excess casualty follow form policy, effective August 1, 2011 to August 1, 2012. The Alterra policy has a per-occurrence limit of $25 million, which is excess of Chartis’ commercial umbrella liability policy with a per-occurrence limit of $50 million, and excess of ACE American Insurance Company’s commercial general liability policy with a per-occurrence limit of $1 million.

Alterra says the terms and conditions of the Chartis policy were made part of the Alterra policy, except with respect to any contrary provisions contained in, or endorsed in, the Alterra policy.

 

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