Insurers not liable for Trump Tower's environmental violations

Claims related to improper use of Chicago River

Insurers not liable for Trump Tower's environmental violations


By Mika Pangilinan

Insurers of Chicago’s Trump International Hotel and Tower are not obligated to cover claims related to environmental violations, according to a recent ruling by a state appeals court.

A lawsuit against Trump Tower was initiated by the Illinois attorney general’s office in 2018 over allegations that the hotel improperly used the Chicago River for its cooling system.

According to the suit, the hotel drew approximately 20 million gallons of water from the river daily and returned it at a higher temperature, potentially causing harm to the aquatic ecosystem.

The lawsuit also claimed that the hotel failed to renew a permit for the water discharge after it had expired in 2017.

Potential fines associated with these violations could amount to $12 million, the Chicago Sun Times reported, equivalent to $10,000 for each day the hotel was found to be in violation.

Insurers for Trump Tower, which include Continental Casualty Co., ACE American Insurance Co., Illinois Union Insurance Co., and QBE Insurance Corp., had sought a court declaration affirming that they were not responsible for covering any costs related to the state’s lawsuit.

Judge Jesse Reyes, writing on behalf of the three-judge appellate court, stated that the hot water discharges did not “constitute an ‘occurrence’ under the terms of the insurance policies.”

The court’s ruling went on to state that the insurers are not responsible for pollution-related fines since the building itself did not sustain any physical damage.

The dispute between the hotel and its insurers began in 2021, after an Illinois circuit court ruled in favor of the state agency.

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