Baker & O'Brien, Inc.

Case Studies

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Dominoes?

Insurance Claim, Asia Pacific

January 1, 2019

An ammonia producer claimed that damages to its processing equipment occurred from three related failures, connected by proximate cause, and should be treated as a single loss under its policy.  The insurance policy defined proximate cause as “an unbroken chain of causation uninterrupted by any new and intervening cause.”  Upon initial examination, the insurers disputed that the three events were, in fact, related. 

Baker & O’Brien was engaged to determine if the three events were reasonably connected by proximate cause, as defined in the insurance policy.  Our investigation focused on the technical circumstances to determine if the three events were related by location, time, equipment, process design, or operating procedures.  Since the events occurred over a period of three months, it was also necessary to determine if damage from each event subsequently impaired operations or resulted in unplanned maintenance.  Finally, we examined the record to assess the possibility of any new and intervening cause that may have broken the chain of causation between the events.

Our consultants evaluated design documents, incident reports, piping and instrumentation diagrams, and plant operating records to determine whether the three events were separate or linked by proximate cause.  The findings from this work were summarized in an expert report, reviewed with other experts, and presented to the parties.