PCOC - Spring 2009 - (Page 19)

insurance Claims, Complaints and Lawsuits Surviving the California Legal System An interview with Skip Cook, Esq. Part one of a two-part series By Paul Lindsay Director, Jenkins Insurance Group PCOC Insurance Program One of the keys to the long-term success of PCOC Insurance has been the expertise of the attorneys that we use to defend PCOs against claims. One of the finest, and an individual who was there at the beginning in 1989, is Skip Cook, Esq., a partner in the law firm of Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP. Skip and his firm’s reputation in protecting the pest control industry is renown. Let’s not confuse illegitimate for inflated. One hundred percent of the claims I have defended have been inflated, whether they were legitimate or fraudulent. I asked Skip to join me in a question-and-answer interview to conquer the query business owners ask all of the time, “How do I survive California’s legal system?!” This article will focus on issues that affect all branches of operation, alleged bodily injury due to chemical exposure and alleged property damage. We will show you ways to navigate through the ins-and-outs of our complex and lawsuit-happy state. PL: Let’s deal with chemical-related lawsuits first. Over the 30-plus years that you have been defending PCOs from lawsuits, what percentage have involved claims of bodily injury due to chemical exposure and how many were legitimate exposure claims? AC: Not including Branch 3, the great majority of claims against PCOs involve bodily injury. While pure property damage claims are common in Branch 3, claims generated by Branch 1 and Branch 2 operations usually allege personal injury arising out of chemical exposure. Sometimes, property damage is also claimed. Rarely do we get a pure property damage claim, such as staining of a carpet, without a personal injury claim attached. Of course, pure property damage claims are less costly to settle or take to trial. To answer your second question, I need to define what we mean by “legitimate.” If we mean that (1) the claimant was in fact exposed to a pest control chemical at a concentration and for a duration capable of causing injury and (2) the claimant was in fact injured by that exposure, very, very few of the cases are legitimate in that sense. If what we mean by “legitimate” is that (1) the claimant genuinely perceives that he or she is injured and (2) that an apparently qualified medical practitioner has diagnosed him or her as injured and opined that the injury was caused by exposure to the pest control chemical, then almost all of the claims are legitimate. I have defended only a few claims where I concluded at the end of the case that the claim was entirely fraudulent and illegitimate. PCOC / SPRING 2009 19

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PCOC - Spring 2009

PCOC- Spring 2009
President’s Message
Martyn’s Corner
Under Attack!
Drywood Termite Control
State Capitol Report
Capitol Scope
Index to Advertisers

PCOC - Spring 2009