An insurance company is suing nearly 200 Chicago-area towns for failing to do more to prevent damages it says are linked to climate change, Reuters’ Mica Rosenberg reports.
Farmers Insurance is asking the communities to return flood claims from the spring of 2013, which caused at least $US218 in losses. The towns should have done more to fortify their sewers and stormwater drains, the group argues. Rosenberg:
The legal debate may center on whether an uptick in natural disasters is foreseeable or an “act of God.” The cases raise the question of how city governments should manage their budgets before costly emergencies occur.
It’s not the first time an insurance company has made such a contention — there were a flurry of climate-change related lawsuits, ultimately dismissed, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — but experts say we are likely to see more.
“No one is expected to plan for the 500-year storm, but if horrible events are happening with increasing frequency, that may shift the duties,” Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School in New York, told Rosenberg.
Ironically, the region’s avowal of the threat posed by climate change — and its alleged subsequent failure to do more to address it — may have made them a target, Rosenberg reports. Farmers cites Chicago’s climate action plan in its suit to argue it was aware of risks like flooding.
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