Property owners and landlords should be aware that if a tenant or others are injured as a result of poisoning from lead or other substances which are defined as “pollutants,” there is a good chance that your liability insurance policy does not provide coverage for the tenant’s claimed damages and you will not be entitled to a defense of a lawsuit seeking damage against you.

On March 21, 2016, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed an appellate court’s first impression ruling and held that a personal injury arising from lead poisoning due to lead-based paint ingestion is excluded from coverage under a commercial general liability (“CGL”) insurance policy’s “pollution” exclusion provision.[1] The Georgia Supreme Court further held that an insurer owes no duty to defend its insured against allegations of personal injury resulting from the ingestion of lead-based paint in a residential rental property owned by the insured policyholder.[2]

The insured – a landlord of residential rental property – was sued by his tenant after the tenant’s daughter sustained permanent personal injury from the ingestion of lead-based paint that was present in the rental property.