Illinois Court Addresses Liquor Liability Exclusion

In its recent decision in Netherlands Insurance Co. v. Phusion Projects, Inc., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5222 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 17, 2012), the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois had occasion to consider the application of liquor liability exclusion.

The insured, Phusion Projects, produced and sold an alcoholic beverage that also contained significant quantities of “stimulants” such as caffeine, wormwood and taurine. Phusion was named as a defendant in several product liability suits brought by individuals claiming injuries as a result of having consumed the beverage. While the nature of plaintiffs’ injuries differed, all suits alleged, in pertinent part, that the combination of alcohol and stimulants in the Phusion beverage enabled plaintiffs to consume more alcohol without passing out, thus causing them to behave more erratically while intoxicated and/or causing them to suffer negative health effects.

Phusion’s primary and umbrella liability insurers denied coverage for the underlying suits on the basis of a liquor liability exclusion applicable to...

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