In the past, the technology industry largely steered clear of the nation’s capital. Recently, however, the political playing field has grown to include some of the biggest, well-known Silicon Valley technology companies—and they are willing and able to pay the price to protect their interests on both the federal and state level. Sean Parker, one of the founders of Napster has said, “I think we’re starting to come into a realization of our own power and of our own capability, not just as innovators and technology pioneers, but also in a political sense.” Norimitsu Onishi, Tech Industry Flexes Muscle in California Race, The New York Times (Feb. 5, 2014).
Recently, a disgruntled former UPS employee, whose employment had been terminated, opened fire at the UPS facility in Alabama, killing two employees before killing himself. Tragically, not a day seems to go by without some media report of gun violence in this country. While any level of gun violence, where innocent lives are taken, stirs contentious debate on the issue of the “right to bear arms,” gun violence at the workplace presents special challenges to employers aiming to prevent becoming a part of the statistic and the evening news. The debate over who should carry guns and under what conditions or restrictions has created a platform for dialog concerning gun regulation and safety. In response, many states have passed more comprehensive gun legislation, which may make it more difficult or easier for employers seeking to keep their workplace safe, depending on which side of the gun debate you are on.
Carriers defending against asbestos claims—and possibly other long-tail claims such as those involving silica, benzene, and talc—would be wise to review the Keasbey case to identify strategies for limiting coverage. Cont’l Cas. Co. v. Emp. Ins. Co. of Wausau, 871 N.Y.S.2d 48 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008) (Keasbey). There, the court found that “one indisputable fact . . . to emerge from [the] medical evidence . . . is that actual injury . . . does not occur upon [initial] exposure to asbestos.” Id. at 62. This ruling, which has implications for trigger of coverage, nonproducts coverage, allocation, and corporate succession, has been underused by insurers litigating asbestos coverage issues, especially given that since the Keasbey trial, which was held in 2005, the medical evidence has become stronger that “bodily injury” does not occur at or soon after initial exposure.