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Insurance company sues to deny Apple coverage in slip-and-fall claim

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
A new lawsuit filed against Apple in Chicago this week adds to the company's considerable list of legal battles, though this particular case isn't a multi-biliion dollar patent dispute but instead a common denial of insurance stemming from a 2010 civil suit.

The Colony Insurance Company on Friday lodged a complaint in an Illinois district court disputing liability for a claim from Apple, the Chicago Transit Authority and a Chicago construction company over a civil suit involving an incident that took place during the building of an Apple Store in 2010.

In early 2010, the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant entered a joint venture with the CTA to pay for renovations to a subway station near a new Apple Store location to be built by contractor Pepper Construction Company. At the time, the $4 million deal was said to have granted Apple the naming rights of the station as well as the ability to buy out all advertising space if the company so pleased.

Pepper subcontracted Gilco Scaffolding Co., LLC, the company covered by Colony Insurance, to set up shoring and scaffolding screen services at the construction and renovation sites. As a stipulation of the agreement, Apple and Pepper were identified as "Additional Insureds," and were to be protected by Colony's limited liability coverage.

On March 17, 2010, while walking through the active Apple Store construction site, Esther Gonzalez tripped and fell on the sidewalk, fracturing her hip. Following a March 2011 civil suit against Apple, Pepper and the CTA, Gonzalez filed an amended complaint that added Gilco as a defendant.

Unfortunately for Apple and Pepper, the Gilco Scaffolding Screen Subcontract Agreement was executed on April 5, 2010, meaning that Gonzalez's "bodily injury" was not yet covered as the incident occurred 19 days prior to the effective date of liability.


Completed Lincoln Park, Chicago Apple Store | Source: Apple


Apple, Pepper and the CTA sued Colony after they were denied coverage for legal fees and damages following the conclusion of the Gonzalez suit. Colony fired back with its own complaint, claiming the Gonzalez incident occurred before the Apple and Pepper were included under "Additional Insured," and that the CTA was not covered at all under the blanket endorsement from Gilco.


Renovated North/Clybourn CTA subway station | Source: Apple


It is unclear whether the Illinois Distrcit Court will find Colony liable for the claim or if Apple will continue to press the matter when it already has worldwide patent disputes to deal with. The amount of damages and legal fees is undisclosed, though filing with the district court reveals that it exceeds $75,000.
post #2 of 16
Insurance companies suck almost as much as Congress.
post #3 of 16
I for one couldn't give a rat's fanny over the insurance issues. What begs the questions is how Gilco Scaffolding Co., LLC could have allowed this woman to "walk through the active Apple Store construction site"! Scaffolding companies are responsible for establishing a safe perimeter around the work area (at least, that's how it is here in Japan), and therefore, unless someone is blatantly ignoring signs, and blatantly moves a physical barrier aside to enter a dangerous construction site, the scaffolding company would and should be at fault.
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDW View Post

I for one couldn't give a rat's fanny over the insurance issues. What begs the questions is how Gilco Scaffolding Co., LLC could have allowed this woman to "walk through the active Apple Store construction site"! Scaffolding companies are responsible for establishing a safe perimeter around the work area (at least, that's how it is here in Japan), and therefore, unless someone is blatantly ignoring signs, and blatantly moves a physical barrier aside to enter a dangerous construction site, the scaffolding company would and should be at fault.

I think it's like you say in every country I know, except US.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eideard View Post

Insurance companies suck almost as much as Congress.

While I agree, they do. What the heck is apple and pepper doing starting construction without proper insurance?!? You have to be smarter than that. Unless, of course, they weighed that the 19 days of missed work doesnt justify the small risk someone would get hurt. They did.
It was either a bad gamble or stupidity. Either way, I hope the lady gets well more than $75k. A broken hip? Yikes. Medical costs alone on that one... Oh ya, and a broken hip! As if that's just gonna heal up and you'll never know the difference. That sucks.

2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #6 of 16
"Just walk on the other side of the street!"
Wheres SJ when you need him?
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

While I agree, they do. What the heck is apple and pepper doing starting construction without proper insurance?!? You have to be smarter than that. Unless, of course, they weighed that the 19 days of missed work doesnt justify the small risk someone would get hurt. They did.
It was either a bad gamble or stupidity. Either way, I hope the lady gets well more than $75k. A broken hip? Yikes. Medical costs alone on that one... Oh ya, and a broken hip! As if that's just gonna heal up and you'll never know the difference. That sucks.

Her health insurance will just deny coverage.
post #8 of 16
Hey - AI editors - you've set a precedent here! Does this mean we'll be treated to a report on every public liability lawsuit involving any Apple property anywhere in the world?!

C'mon - let's use a little editorial judgment.

I admit to being a Fanatical Moderate. I Disdain the Inane. Vyizderzominymororzizazizdenderizorziz?

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I admit to being a Fanatical Moderate. I Disdain the Inane. Vyizderzominymororzizazizdenderizorziz?

Reply
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stourque View Post

Her health insurance will just deny coverage.

Whether or not they did (yes, I see what you did there), that issue is past. One assumes that by now she's gotten medical attention one way or another and whoever paid for it (her or her insurer) is trying to get reimbursed from Apple or the construction companies. There appear to have been multiple screwups here, such as (as others have said) letting her on a construction site, and also whoever didn't notice the effective coverage date was nearly 3 weeks after construction began. I wonder if the notice of that effective coverage date was clearly spelled out or if the insurance company pulled a fast one, slipping it by the project manager(s).
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rabbit_Coach View Post

I think it's like you say in every country I know, except US.

If so, Gilco Scaffolding should get the shaft, not Apple.
post #11 of 16
It's pointless to even try to discuss/debate the merits of the case unless we know if the policy in question was an occurrence or a claims-made policy and if Apple was endorsed on the policy from the effective date or sometime after. The article says Apple was was added as an Additional Insured after the accident, but was the endorsement retroactive to the effective date. And related to that, those asking why there wasn't insurance in place at the time of the accident, we don't know there wasn't. The article only said Apple was endorsed on the policy after the accident. The policy may have been in place for months prior to that. We don't know the effective date in question.

Basically, nothing here but fodder for folks to bitch about whichever side they choose to argue against without any real information to form an educated opinion. This is the internet, after all...
post #12 of 16
Now I know why I am not a lawyer. I couldn't follow any of that.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post

Now I know why I am not a lawyer. I couldn't follow any of that.

I take it you consider yourself good at something though?

What professional area would that be in since this is a pretty straightforward non-job-related personal injury case coupled with arguably questionable insurance coverage issues.
post #14 of 16
and very confusing just who is claiming what based not his report.

Why not counter-sue the woman for improper use of the sidewalk?

I suspect that perhaps the scaffolding was erected in such a way as to provide a walkway beneath the scaffold - I have seen this done in a couple cities - where the sidewalk is not very wide - and there is a limit to where the scaffold can go - so a pathway underneath the scaffold is created if only for access to the doorways to the building affected.

But was there some unreasonable hazard? or would the person have fallen most anywhere and it was more of a coincidence that it happened at that particular spot.

I am not sure how it turned out but the real estate company my parents work for was sued when a woman fell in front of a house listed for sale by an agent at their office - uneven sidewalk or something. The law suit named the city - the current home owner - the listing agent and the real estate company.

Local laws may vary in regards to who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in front of your house (or business) but it seems to me like a lawyer simply trying to find someone with deep enough pockets who is willing to pay to make the case go away when they name every individual and or company and or legal entity who is in any way shape or form related to the location of the incident.

Now if you have a case where the scaffolding fell on her - or improperly erected scaffolding created an unsafe condition - then yes there is liability. but is the person was gawking and the construction site and tripped over her own feet that is her own fault.
post #15 of 16
You would think Apple would have some blanket policies covering all of their facilities automatically, whether under construction or complete.

In any case, it looks like Apple did a really nice job with that train station renovation. Now that is a very positive contribution to the community. Too bad Apple didn't see the need to renovate any of the subway stations near any of their stores in NYC, although none of those stations have street-level buildings - they have just staircases. An Apple renovation of a public transit station could set a new standard for future renovations and construction. Most NYC transit stations look like they need to be renovated again the day renovations are complete because the quality of materials and craftsmanship is so poor.
post #16 of 16
Just don't walk that way?
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