SC District Court Grants Motion to Realign, Preserves Jurisdiction Covil Corp. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. 18-3291-BHH, 2019 WL 2482382, June 14, 2019

The federal district court for the District of South Carolina granted the motion of defendant Sentry Insurance, a Mutual Company, to realign certain defendants in the case as plaintiffs in order to create diversity jurisdiction in the federal court. The overall matter is an insurance coverage dispute among Covil Corp., a now-defunct company that once manufactured asbestos-containing thermal insulation, and its insurers, regarding underlying personal injury claims. In 2018, Covil was subjected to a $38 million judgment in one of the underlying suits, and it…
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California Court Allows Insurer to Repair Default California Superior Court, June 13, 2019

CALIFORNIA – A San Francisco Superior Court allowed Century Indemnity Company (Century) to vacate a default and default judgment against its potential former insured, James A. Nelson, Co., Inc. (Nelson). The plaintiff, the wife of a decedent whose death was attributed to alleged exposure to asbestos-containing products, brought several lawsuits for wrongful death in or around 2012. About a year after bringing suit against Nelson Co., the plaintiff requested and received an entry of default. The following year, in January 2014, she received a default…
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Umbrella Policy’s Self-Insured Retention Does Not Apply to Excess Policies California Appellate Court, First District, February 25, 2019

CALIFORNIA — A coverage dispute arose from numerous claims filed, in various jurisdictions, against Deere & Company for personal injuries arising from alleged exposure to asbestos-containing brakes, clutch assemblies, and gaskets used in Deere machines. In this decision, the court addressed two issues: 1) whether Deere’s higher-layer excess policies were triggered once the first-layer excess policy limits, which were subject to a self-insured retention (SIR) paid by Deere, had been exhausted; and (2) whether the higher-layer excess insurers’ indemnity obligation extended to Deere’s defense costs…
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Default Judgments Set Aside After Insurer Discovers Policies California Court of Appeal, January 9, 2019

CALIFORNIA — Beginning in 2009, several asbestos plaintiffs filed claims against the Associated Insulation of California (the Associated). The Associated ceased operating in 1974 and did not respond to the plaintiffs’ complaints. Two of the plaintiffs notified the Associated’s alleged insurer, Fireman’s Fund, of the lawsuits. However, Fireman’s Fund could not locate any policies issued to the Associated and therefore declined to defend or indemnify Associated. The plaintiffs then sought and obtained default judgments in various amounts.The plaintiffs served notice of entry of default judgments…
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Insured’s Asbestos Claims Considered Multiple Occurrences But With Aggregate Limits U.S. District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania, December 27, 2018

PENNSYLVANIA – The plaintiff Ohio Valley Insulating Company (OVI) filed a motion for partial summary judgment and the defendants Continental Insurance Company, Zurich American Insurance Company, and Granite State Insurance Company (collectively, Insurers) cross-moved for summary judgment. The court granted and denied in part both motions. With regard to the first legal issue addressed by the Western District of Pennsylvania, OVI sought a declaration that various asbestos-related suits filed against it were based on multiple occurrences related to OVI’s “operations” (installation and removal of asbestos-containing…
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Policy Covered Injuries Arising From Operations During Policy Period Supreme Court, Appellate Division. November 15, 2018

In a brief opinion, a New York appellate court held that an insurance policy covered injuries arising out of operations performed during the policy period, and therefore was not limited to injuries that actually occurred during the policy period. This meant that coverage was triggered under the policy by claims arising from use of spray-on asbestos fireproofing during the policy period, even though the injury did not manifest until later. The court further held that the claims did not arise from a single occurrence and…
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Excess Policies with Coverage Periods Between 12 and 24 months Provide Only One Aggregate Limit United States District Court, District of Connecticut, September 28, 2018

CONNECTICUT — This case involved a dispute over the number of aggregate limits in two excess insurance policies. Ferguson was the successor in interest to Familian Corporation, a pipe and supply distributor for the plumbing and contractor industries.  Familian supplied certain products containing asbestos from the 1950’s until the 1970’s and as a result has been defending a vast number of asbestos lawsuits since 1997. Ferguson’s primary insurance policies were exhausted by 2002, and the dispute at bar was among the umbrella and excess carriers.…
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Unavailability Exception in Asbestos Coverage Dispute Affirmed by New Jersey Supreme Court New Jersey Supreme Court, June 27, 2018

NEW JERSEY — The decision involved questions about the insurance coverage available to defendant Honeywell International, Inc. (Honeywell), a New Jersey based corporation, for thousands of bodily-injury claims premised on exposure to brake and clutch pads (friction products) containing asbestos.  The court first considered whether the law of New Jersey or Michigan (the headquarters location of Honeywell’s predecessor when the disputed excess insurance policies were issued) should control in the allocation of insurance liability among insurers for nationwide products-liability claims. Second, the court addressed whether…
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Asbestos Claims Related to Operations Ceasing Prior to Coverage Dates of Insurance Policy Deplete Aggregate Limits U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, March 26, 2018

The Walter E. Campbell Company (WECCO) was a company that handled, sold, installed, and removed insulation materials containing asbestos. Since the mid-80s, WECCO was subjected to numerous lawsuits from individuals alleging damages due to asbestos exposure. WECCO is now defunct. Although many claims against WECCO remained pending, its insurers contended that they were no longer contractually obligated to defend or indemnify WECCO because their aggregate limits had been exhausted. WECCO responded by arguing that the insurers improperly allocated operations claims as completed operations claims. Unlike…
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Asbestos Cleanup Costs Covered Under Premise Pollution Liability Policy U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, March 16, 2018

MISSOURI — A federal district court in Missouri held that Illinois Union Insurance Company was obligated to defend and indemnify its insured, Sunflower Redevelopment, LLC, with regard to requests from a state environmental agency to investigate the possibility of contamination by asbestos and other pollutants at a site that Sunflower was remediating. Sunflower and the U.S. Army were subject to a consent order from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) requiring them to remediate contamination at a former army ammunition plant. In compliance…
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