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Margo Brownell Authors Article on the Business Risk Doctrine for The Hennepin Lawyer

November 1, 2013

Margo Brownell, partner in Maslon's Litigation Group and head of the Insurance Litigation and Insurance Coverage Counseling Groups, has authored an article titled "An 'Accident' Waiting to Happen: The Rise and Fall of the Business Risk Doctrine," which appeared in the November 1, 2013, issue of The Hennepin Lawyer

Margo begins the article by presenting two scenarios that distinguish what lies at the heart of liability insurance: whether the fault was insurer negligence, or an "accident," explaining that liability insurance "is meant to cover only unforeseeable events that cause property damage to third parties." She states that "Minnesota courts, along with most courts in the country, have sided with insurers in using the business risk principles to defeat coverage for faulty workmanship," and in effect, "shift the cost of business risk damages to the insured (which they assert, is in the best position to know and control the quality of its work and such risks)." The article goes on to outline the origins of the business risk doctrine, its adoption by the Minnesota Supreme Court which uses the business risk doctrine as an exclusion and has "resulted in a pro-insurer environment," and concludes with case studies of recent attempts by Minnesota courts to shift responsibility of the business risk doctrine back to the insurer rather than the insured. 

Margo Brownell specializes in insurance coverage counseling and litigation. She represents commercial policyholders with complex insurance claims under all types of property and liability policies, including commercial general liability, directors and officers liability, professional liability, cyber-liability, and intellectual property liability coverage. In addition, she handles complex property claims, such as those arising from major catastrophic events such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, as well as claims under financial institution bonds and commercial crime policies. She is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, where she founded and directs the Insurance Law Clinic, which provides insurance help for low to moderate income individuals and for businesses with small insurance claims.

To read the article from The Hennepin Lawyer online, go to "An 'Accident' Waiting to Happen: The Rise and Fall of the Business Risk Doctrine."


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