The Pollution Exclusion Can Bar Coverage for Alleged Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Claims

In Foremost Ins. Co. v. Rodriguez, a Pennsylvania federal district denied a motion to dismiss a declaratory judgment lawsuit filed by a liability insurer that sought to disclaim coverage for an underlying lawsuit alleging carbon monoxide exposure.[1] 

In the underlying state court lawsuit, tenants sued their landlords, alleging that the landlords refused to repair a heating system, which resulted, ultimately, in carbon monoxide poisoning. After the tenants’ hospitalization, the local gas company deemed the heater on the property unsafe, and instructed the …

Continue Reading

No Smoking! Pollution Exclusion Bars Coverage For Claims Arising Out of “Smoky” Beverage

While Florida courts have typically refused to limit pollution exclusions within insurance policies to traditional environmental claims, a District Court in Florida has extended the application of such exclusions even further by finding that a pollution exclusion applies to claims against a bar for injuries allegedly caused by an “exotic” cocktail served by the bar.

In Evanston Insurance Company v. Haven South Beach, LLC, et al., Case No. 15-20573 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 28, 2015), the insured, a bar, served an alcoholic drink infused …

Continue Reading

Polluting the Plain Meaning of Policy Exclusions

The scope of the pollution exclusion in liability policies continues to be a highly-contested insurance coverage issue. One of the more recent debates in this area is whether the pollution exclusion’s application is limited to “traditional environmental pollution” or whether the exclusion should be afforded its plain and ordinary meaning, similar to other policy exclusions. The Vermont Supreme Court recently sided with insurers on this issue, holding that a policy’s pollution exclusion should be treated with the same analysis as any other policy exclusion. …

Continue Reading

What’s That Smell? Supreme Court of New Hampshire Holds That Cat Urine Odor Constitutes First-Party Property Damage

In Mellen v. Northern Security Insurance Co., Inc., 2015 WL 1869572 (N.H. April 24, 2015), the Supreme Court of New Hampshire issued a declaratory judgment that a homeowners policyholder was entitled to first-party coverage for cat urine odor. The court further held that coverage was not barred by the pollution exclusion.

The policyholders leased an apartment unit, but the tenant moved out in the middle of the lease term due to cat urine odor from the policyholders’ downstairs neighbor. After the tenant moved out, …

Continue Reading

Lead Paint is Not an Excluded Pollutant in CGL Pollution Exclusion

In a personal injury action involving ingestion of lead-based paint in the house the claimant rented from the insured, the majority of the First Division Georgia Court of Appeals held that a policy’s pollution exclusion does not bar coverage for underlying personal injury claims, because lead-based paint was not specifically listed as a pollutant in the policy. Therefore, the exclusion did not exclude coverage for injuries arising out of the ingestion or inhalation of lead-based paint. This decision reversed the trial court grant of summary …

Continue Reading