A business or company named as a defendant in an asbestos action and found liable by the court can in many cases turn to its insurer for relief; in fact, it is standard procedure (and highly recommended) for a business entity to carry such liability insurance. The problem with asbestos suits (which is due in large part to the private, for-profit health care “system” in the U.S.) is the staggering amounts of money involved. A business liability policy covers liability up to a set amount; because of the costs of treatment, legal settlements often go higher than those limits, leaving the company itself responsible for anything beyond its covered amount. As one might imagine, this often leads to conflicts between policyholders and insurance companies. SB Decking, a subsidiary of the Quaker Chemical Corporation, has been a frequent defendant in asbestos suits. The company has been at odds with its insurer, Employers Insurance Company of Wassau, over some of these claims.
Under an agreement made today between SB Decking and Employers Insurance, the latter will pay 27 percent of the former’s legal fees and indemnity costs with regards to asbestos law suits for the next five years. The agreement is in force retroactively from 1 July 2007. Either party can terminate the agreement after the first three years, however, provided it gives the other two years’ notice–and the agreement remains in force until such notice is given. SB Decking retains the right to sue Employers Insurance for coverage on any asbestos suits that may be filed against it after the agreement is terminated, however. Not surprisingly, SB Decking was once in the shipbuilding and maritime supply business, when it was known as Selby, Battersby and Company. Located in Pennsylvania, it was one of the defense sub-contractors during the Second World War responsible for turning out nuts, bolts, rivets, pipe assemblies and the thousands of other small parts vital to making large, sea-going vessels operable.