Oregon Federal District Court Gives Insurer Partial Win in Superfund Case

In Siltronic Corp. v. Employers Ins. Co. of Wausau, No. 3:11-cv-1493, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153275 (D. Or. Oct. 28, 2014), an Oregon federal court granted partial summary judgment for the insured Siltronic Corp. (Siltronic), finding the insurer Employers Insurance Company of Wausau (Wausau) had a duty to defend against claims related to the cleanup of a Superfund site.  The district court, however, denied Wausau had a duty to pay any pre-tender defense costs.

The coverage dispute arose from one of seven policies issued …

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No Further Information Required: 10th Circuit Confirms Clear Pollution Exclusion and Rejects Insured’s Attempts to Introduce Extrinsic Evidence

This environmental coverage action involved a determination of the insurers’ obligations to reimburse the policyholder for its litigation costs arising from an action commenced by over 400 Chesapeake, Virginia landowners.  The landowners alleged a golf course developer caused personal injury and property damage through the use of contaminated fly-ash material during the construction of a nearby golf course.

The policyholder was insured under seven commercial general liability policies that required the insurers to reimburse Headwaters for expenses associated with lawsuits that occurred during the policy …

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Phase I/II Environmental Assessment Report Issued To Property Owner Held To Constitute A Claim For Environmental Losses Under A Claims-Made Policy

This environmental action involves a determination of coverage under a claims-made policy stemming from the investigation and clean-up of a site in Waterbury Connecticut.  Specifically, Adelphia entered into a contract to sell its Waterbury property and engaged an environmental consultant to conduct an environmental audit of the site prior to the sale pursuant to the Connecticut Property Transfer Act.  The Act prohibited transfer of an “establishment” without certifying that a parcel had been investigated for the potential discharge of hazardous waste and resultant remediation.

The …

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Court Rejects Policyholder’s Products-Completed Operations Hazard Arguments In Attempt To Obtain Coverage For Environmental Claims

This environmental coverage action arises from soil and groundwater contamination at Visteon’s Indiana plant that migrated to the properties of neighboring landowners. Specifically, Visteon manufactured automotive climate control system parts at the facility continuously until 2007 and operated 13 degreasers, which primarily used Trichloroethylene (TCE) as a degreasing solvent.  Multiple historical releases of TCE from the 1960s to 2000 and beyond resulted in a TCE groundwater plume that emanated from the site and volatile organic compounds, including TCE, were detected in the soil. Visteon was …

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District Court Rejects Pollution Exclusion In Worker Exposure Case

This environmental coverage action arose from a worker’s exposure to corrosive chemicals while cleaning a tank and involved, in pertinent part, application of the pollution exclusion.  As background, the claimant’s employer specialized in cleaning mud tanks used in oil and gas drilling operations.  The claimant was not informed by the policyholder, JCI, that the subject mud tank contained large quantities of caustic materials, and based on that representation, he entered the mud tank without proper safety equipment.  As a result, the claimant was exposed to …

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Issue of Whether EPA Administrative Orders Pursuant To CERCLA Qualify As A “Suit” Certified To Texas Supreme Court

This environmental coverage action involved a dispute over whether the insurers had a duty to provide a defense to claims brought by the EPA in a CERCLA remediation action involving hazardous waste contained in three surface impoundments.  The 5th Circuit interposed a certified question to the Supreme Court of Texas whether the EPA’s PRP letters and unilateral administrative orders issued pursuant to CERCLA constitute a “suit” within the meaning of the commercial general liability (CGL) policies triggering a duty to defend.

The plaintiff policyholder …

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Insurers’ Disclaimer Involving Environmental Damage Not Subject To Insurance Law §3420(d) Notice Requirements

This environmental coverage action involved a dispute over whether the insurers had a duty to provide coverage for the remediation of environmental damage at several manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites formerly owned by Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) and the timeliness of the excess insurers late notice defense asserted as an affirmative defense in its answer.  Defendants issued excess insurance policies to LILCO that required, as a threshold condition for coverage, LILCO to provide prompt notice of any occurrence that potentially implicated defendants’ duty of …

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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Deemed Traditional Pollution Precluding Coverage Under Policy’s Pollution Exclusion

This environmental coverage action involved a Church pastor and his wife’s exposure to carbon monoxide from the Church’s heating system resulting in the death of the pastor, and the court’s interpretation as to the application of the policy’s pollution exclusion.  Specifically, the insurer commenced a declaratory action seeking a determination that the policies’ pollution exclusions precluded any duty to defend or indemnify the Church with respect to the pastors’ estates’ claims and issued a reservation of rights denying coverage on the basis of those exclusions.…

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Insurer Prevails On Applicability Of Pollution Exclusion – Release Not Sudden or Accidental

This environmental coverage action arises out of the historic contamination of a parcel with various solvents and toxic waste disposed in unlined pits at the property.  Specifically, Northrop acknowledges using the property, which later became known as Bethpage Community Park (BCP), for the disposal of sludge from an on-site industrial wastewater treatment plant and from waste oils that contained residual amounts of TCE, other solvents and PCB’s since 1948.

Later, in the 1960’s, the company donated the property to the Town of Oyster Bay and …

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Et Tu, Neighbor?: Multiple Carbon Monoxide Injuries in Apartment Complex Deemed A Single Occurrence

This environmental coverage action arises out of a carbon monoxide exposure and poisoning of multiple tenants in an apartment complex serviced by a gas boiler furnace located in the basement of the unit.

A declaratory suit was initiated against the complex owner and the insurer seeking a declaration that claimants are entitled to a separate occurrence limit and that the damages sustained by each group of tenant plaintiffs constituted separate occurrences under the policy.  Here, the subject policy defined “occurrence” as “an accident, including continuous …

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