Various legal and regulatory proceedings and claims have been or may be asserted against Hamilton Beach Holding and certain subsidiaries relating to the conduct of their businesses, including product liability, patent infringement, asbestos related claims, environmental and other claims. These proceedings and claims are incidental to the ordinary course of business of the Company. Management believes that it has meritorious defenses and will vigorously defend the Company in these actions. Any costs that management estimates will be paid as a result of these claims are accrued when the liability is considered probable and the amount can be reasonably estimated. If a range of amounts can be reasonably estimated and no amount within the range is a better estimate than any other amount, then the minimum of the range is accrued. The Company does not accrue liabilities when the likelihood that the liability has been incurred is probable but the amount cannot be reasonably estimated or when the liability is believed to be only reasonably possible or remote. For contingencies where an unfavorable outcome is probable or reasonably possible and which are material, the Company discloses the nature of the contingency and, in some circumstances, an estimate of the possible loss.
These matters are subject to inherent uncertainties, and unfavorable rulings could occur. If an unfavorable ruling were to occur, there exists the possibility of an adverse impact on the Company’s financial position, results of operations and cash flows of the period in which the ruling occurs, or in future periods.
HBB is a defendant in a legal proceeding in which the plaintiff alleges that certain HBB products infringe the plaintiff’s patents. On May 3, 2019, the jury returned its verdict finding that the Company had infringed certain patents of the plaintiff and, as a result, awarded the plaintiff damages in the amount of $3.2 million. Accordingly, the Company recorded $3.2 million expense in selling, general and administrative expenses in the second quarter of 2019 for the contingent loss. The Company believes that its products do not infringe on the plaintiff’s patents and is evaluating post-trial motions and appeal of any adverse judgment.
HBB is investigating or remediating historical environmental contamination at some current and former sites operated by HBB or by businesses it acquired. Based on the current stage of the investigation or remediation at each known site, HBB estimates the total investigation and remediation costs and the period of assessment and remediation activity required for each site. The estimate of future investigation and remediation costs is primarily based on variables associated with site clean-up, including, but not limited to, physical characteristics of the site, the nature and extent of the contamination and applicable regulatory programs and remediation standards. No assessment can fully characterize all subsurface conditions at a site. There is no assurance that additional assessment and remediation efforts will not result in adjustments to estimated remediation costs or the time frame for remediation at these sites.
HBB's estimates of investigation and remediation costs may change if it discovers contamination at additional sites or additional contamination at known sites, if the effectiveness of its current remediation efforts change, if applicable federal or state regulations change or if HBB's estimate of the time required to remediate the sites changes. HBB's revised estimates may differ materially from original estimates.
At June 30, 2019, December 31, 2018, and June 30, 2018, HBB had accrued undiscounted obligations of $4.6 million, $8.2 million, and $8.5 million respectively, for environmental investigation and remediation activities. The reduction in the amount accrued at June 30, 2019 compared to December 31, 2018 is the result of a change in the expected type and extent of investigation and remediation activities associated with one of the sites, due to additional testing and assessment performed with respect to that site. In addition, HBB estimates that it is reasonably possible that it may incur additional expenses in the range of zero to $3.9 million related to the environmental investigation and remediation at these sites.