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PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND INSURANCE MARKET CONDITIONS DOMINATE CONCERNS OF UTILITY COMPANIES

 PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND INSURANCE MARKET CONDITIONS
 DOMINATE CONCERNS OF UTILITY COMPANIES
 NEW YORK, May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Caps on punitive damages and the continued soft property/casualty insurance market are among the leading business concerns for U.S. utility companies, according to a national survey conducted by Alexander & Alexander Services Inc. (A&A).
 For the fourth consecutive year, utility executives voiced apprehension over escalating jury awards. Capping non-economic and/or punitive damages remains of paramount interest to 89 percent of respondents.
 Court rulings on liability coverage for cleanups and potential hazards of electromagnetic fields from high voltage transmission lines were also troublesome, with an 83 and 81 percent rating, respectively.
 Eighty-one percent of utility officials cited the need to modify the joint and several liability doctrine.
 "Under Superfund, many companies are being held principally responsible for the cleanup of national priority list sites," Robert H. Moore, A&A senior vice president, reported today. "These firms are also paying substantial penalties for relatively small amounts of alleged pollution. This reflects the joint and several liability doctrine."
 This year's findings also reflected significant interest in insurance market conditions. Concern over the continuation of the soft property/casualty market and unpredictable insurance prices were given an 89 and 75 percent ranking, respectively. "Companies are benefiting from lower insurance costs. However, executives believe that prices will eventually rise, perhaps abruptly, as they did when the market turned in the mid-'80s," noted Moore.
 Utility executives targeted two additional civil justice reform topics -- abolishing attorney contingency fees and using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Interest was also recorded for spiraling health care costs and the need to implement workplace safety programs.
 Jeff Harris, director of research and development for the Alexander Consulting Group's Health Strategies Group, commented, "We have found that workplace safety and proactive injury management programs operate best when they are broad-gauged, functionally integrated and actively encouraged by top management."
 One significant variation in this year's findings was a lower ranking for limiting directors and officers liability. After four consecutive years of high ratings, this issue dropped off utility companies' top 10 list.
 A&A's fifth annual survey focused on 98 legislative and regulatory issues. Typical respondents were executives in companies with sales of $250 million or more, with half generating sales of at least $1 billion.
 The research was undertaken by A&A Government & Industry Affairs Inc., in Washington, D.C., and Radford Associates, part of the Alexander & Alexander Consulting Group Inc., a human resource management consulting company.
 A&A is a global insurance brokerage, risk management and human resource management consulting company serving clients from offices in more than 80 countries.
 -0- 5/22/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: A chart of leading public policy concerns for U.S. utility companies follows. Copies of the report are available from A&A Services Inc., Corporate Communications, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036.
 Alexander & Alexander 1992 Survey
 Utility Executives
 10 Leading Public Policy Concerns
 Pct.
 Caps on punitive damages awards 89
 Soft property/casualty insurance market 89
 Court rulings on liability coverage for cleanups 83
 Electromagnetic fields from high voltage
 transmission lines and electric appliances 81
 Modification of joint and several liability doctrine 81
 Spiraling health care costs 78
 Abolition of attorney contingency fees 78
 Use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms 78
 Workplace safety 75
 Unpredictability of price swings in insurance market 75
 -0- 5/22/92
 /CONTACT: Cathy Aiello of A&A, 212-840-8500/
 (AAL) CO: Alexander & Alexander Services Inc. ST: New York IN: UTI SU: ECO


GK -- NY021 -- 3272 05/22/92 11:38 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 22, 1992
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