Litigation

Cal. Litig. 2018, Volume 31, Number 1

Americas Opioid Epidemic: Emerging Issues of Insurance Coverage

Laura A. Foggan and Michael Lee Huggins

America’s opioid epidemic has reached the courts. States and local governments have filed suits against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors to recover expenses from responding to the public’s opioid addiction, allegedly caused by the pharmaceutical companies. Companies facing such suits have begun tendering claims to their insurance carriers under commercial general liability (CGL) policies, which has prompted high-profile coverage disputes, including in California. Such coverage disputes have included common issues regarding whether the relief sought is "for" or "because of" bodily injury, whether the act or the injury alleged must have been unintentional to constitute an "occurrence," and whether the products exclusion in CGL policies applies. The California Supreme Court this year granted review of one such case, joining only a handful of states leading the discussion on such coverage issues.

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Relief sought "for" or "because of" bodily injury

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