When we hear about insurance companies involved in lawsuits, it usually has something to do with suspected fraud, a denied claim or bad faith. The lawsuit we started to talk about in our last post struck us as unusual on just about every level — well, most levels, because the bottom line is still insurers’ bottom lines. They are arguing over property insurance claims they believe they should not have been forced to pay.
One truly unusual aspect about the case is that insurers and homeowners are on the same side. They have joined together to file a class action suit against local governments in the Chicago area in a claim about climate change.
The plaintiffs claim that authorities knew enough to prepare for a natural disaster but failed to do so. In spite of mounting evidence that climate change was a reality, the defendants did not update an outdated, seriously deteriorating municipal sewage system.
Local governments, the plaintiffs say, were or should have been well aware that rainfall patterns were changing, were in fact growing more intense. Even setting all the external scientific observations and studies aside, Chicago had prepared an action plan in 2008 that addressed climate change and heavier rainfall in the area.
Local governments were also warned that the April 2013 storm system was heading toward Chicago. The cities could have taken precautionary measures when the forecasts began to look ominous, but not one municipality did. Officials monitored the situation at the time, but agencies were reacting to the disaster, not protecting homes, businesses or even the water supply.
We’ll finish this up in our next post.
Nature World News, “Lawsuit Warns Politicians That Climate Change Can Cost Them,” Brian Stallard, May 23, 2014
Chicago Tribune, “Flooding forces sewage to be diverted into Lake Michigan,” April 18, 2013, Michael HawthorneShare