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An insurer is obligated to defend energy company Phillips 66 Co. in litigation filed by the family of a truck driver who died of benzene-induced blood and bone marrow cancer, a federal district court says.
As a gasoline truck driver, Elwyn Webb loaded benzene-containing gasoline at various terminals operated by companies including ConocoPhillips Co., which is now Houston-based Phillips 66 Co., according to Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in Houston in Canal Indemnity Co. v. Caljet, II, LLC, et al.
Mr. Webb was diagnosed with the cancer, Myelodysplastic Syndrome, in January 2016 and died in March of 2016, according to the lawsuit. His mother and son filed suit against defendants including Phillips 66 in state court in Arizona charging premises liability and failure to warn negligence claims.
Phillip 66 had a master services agreement with a transport company insured by Greenville, South Carolina-based Canal. After receiving notice of the claim, Canal said it did not owe a duty to defend or indemnify the energy company under both its auto and commercial general liability policies. Phillips 66 then filed suit against the insurer.
The court ruled that the underlying lawsuit triggered Canal’s auto and CGL policies.
In its auto coverage, Canal agreed to defend any insured in a suit seeking damages in connection with the loading and unloading of an owned automobile, the ruling said.
The underlying lawsuits seeks “to recover damages or bodily injury suffered by Mr. Webb, caused in part by the loading of gasoline during his employment as a gasoline truck driver,” it said.
Similarly, the CGL policies Canal agreed to defend an insured in litigation seeking damages for bodily injury during the policy period, the ruling said. “Here, the Underlying Lawsuit seeks to recover damages for bodily injury suffered by Mr. Webb during the course of his employment within the policy periods,” it said.
Attorneys in the case did not respond to a request for comment.
More than 40 injured truck drivers who claim their trucking company improperly forced them to live in another city for medical care and light-duty work don’t have enough “commonality” in their workers compensation cases for a class action, the Supreme Court of Iowa ruled Friday, vacating a lower court decision that certified the suit.