A recently filed lawsuit headed by Illinois Farmers Insurance Company against municipalities in Cook County, Illinois, should act as a serious wake up for local governments ignoring their management of climate change.

The lawsuit, Illinois Farmers Insurance Company and Farmers Insurance Exchange v The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago sees the insurer and all of its subsidiaries filling a request for a class action and jury trial against approximately 100 cities, villages and townships in the Cook County region (including the City of Chicago).

The legal action is based on a heavy rainfall event in the region on the 17th and 18th of April 2013. The Plaintiffs state that the Defendants, amongst other things, failed to “adopt and/or implement policies which would maximize the stormwater storage capacity of its stormwater sewers and sanitary water sewers so as to prevent injury to Members of the Plaintiff’ Class” (p.21).

Interestingly the legal action specifically mentions climate change:

…defendant knew or should have known that climate change in Cook County has resulted in greater rain fall volume, greater rainfall intensity and greater rainfall duration than pre1970 rainfall history evidenced, resulting in greater stormwater runoff from a rainfall with Cook County and its Watersheds. (p.20)

This legal action is a very interesting case and is at the very heart of the local government / insurance nexus. Climate Planning will be following and reporting on this case it as it unfolds.  Please click here or to download the action or here for the original article.