Chatham, Cape Cod, town’s insurance policy holders refused to cover damages in a skydiving suit.
The coverage has been requested by Skydive Cape Cod in a lawsuit. The legal action was started in January 2017, between the skydiving company and the town in Massachusetts. The basis of the lawsuit is that Skydive Cape Cod had not been able to renew its contract in 2013 to keep operating at Chatham Municipal Airport. The company seeks $100,000 in damages from the town officials. According to the complaint, Chatham town has failed to uphold the contract and has violated civil rights. The authorities have refused to continue the company’s lease at the local Municipal Airport despite a formal order from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a key agency for aerial transport in the U.S.
This recent legal action has put the officials of Chatham in a sensitive position.
On the one hand, Skydive Cape Cod is claiming its rights to operate in the town’s main airport; on the other hand, the residents of Chatham have already sued the authorities to prohibit skydiving completely in the area. The complaint of the citizens came a few years earlier. They claimed that, ever since the skydiving company began operating in Chatham in 2010, it has brought an upsurge in aerial traffic. As more flights took off and landed, the small Chatham Municipal Airport became filled with noise, which interfered with quiet living in the surrounding area. The town residents have also questioned the safety practices of Skydive Cape Cod, as loud shouts could be heard at times, not only from the air but also on the ground.
So far, Chatham’s officials have not commented publicly on the two lawsuits. All that is known is that the town is being sued by both parties in the conflict.
Skydive Cape Cod’s lawsuit was initiated early in 2017, four years after their contract was discontinued. Now, the company is opposing Chatham’s Board of Selectmen, Town Manager, and the town itself in court to fight for $100,000 – a compensation of the damage done to the business. The lawsuit was filed at Barnstable Superior Court, and the firm is accusing the officials of intentional interference into operations and breach of contract.
On 11 April 2017, it has become known in the letter to the town that insurance would not cover the damages, should Skydive Cape Cod win this suit.
Stephen Hall, speaking on behalf of Old Republic Insurance Company, made it clear that the firm would only pay compensation if the legal claim covers bodily injuries. Property damage also could have been included, but not breach of contract. Therefore, both the indemnity and the defense charges will have to be paid by Chatham officials. Robert Lawless, the attorney at Barnstable Superior Court in Massachusetts who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Skydive Cape Cod, did not allege that the airport commission or the town were at fault for destroying the company’s property.
This is why Coverage A has been denied to Chatham’s authorities by Old Republic Insurance Company.
This insurance firm had been in charge of the town’s liability policy between February 2013 and February 2015, the period for which Chatham is now being sued by the skydiving organisation. During the two years, Old Republic Insurance Company was responsible for covering both the airport and town commission, but only under the rules of coverage, which did not apply to this specific case. Skydive Cape Cod provided services to locals under Cape Cod Flying Circus, as a subcontractor, for three years between 2010 and 2013.
The subsequent interruption in service was caused by safety concerns and noise complaints coming from the residents. In 2013, Jill Goldsmith, the Town Manager of Chatham, made a decision to discontinue the contract with Skydive Cape Cod. This change was approved by the local airport commissioners. According to the lawsuit, however, because Chatham has received approximately $6 million in Federal funding for aviation purposes, all aerial activities are to be allowed on the town territory. A complaint from 2014 filed by Skydive Cape Cod to the FAA was satisfied, and the Administration admitted that discontinuing the contract could be considered economic discrimination on the part of Chatham’s authorities.