A US court limited coverage for a carbon monoxide leak that killed one person and seriously injured others in different apartments in a single block. There was a single cause and therefore one occurrence.
The court found that while the gas undoubtedly travelled to different rooms within a single building at different times over several hours, the injuries to the claimants and the deceased were from “continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions”.
Gas leaked from a gas boiler furnace in the basement of the apartment complex. The leak occurred over several hours and the carbon monoxide levels differed in different apartments. In one apartment the family breadwinner, who ironically had only moved in that day, was killed and families in both were injured. The policy capped the damages at $1 million for one occurrence.
An “occurrence” was defined as “an accident including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions”. On behalf of the two families it had been contended there were two occurrences because the timing and location of the events were different.