Court Declines to Find Coverage in World War II Era Asbestos Claim

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, January 22, 2021

This case is an insurance coverage dispute between plaintiff Cosmopolitan Shipping Co., Inc. and defendant Continental Insurance Company regarding claims made against Cosmopolitan by seamen exposed to asbestos on its ships in the 1940s. The policy at issue was unable to be located, apart from three endorsements. An evidentiary hearing was conducted to determine whether the policy provided coverage and what the terms of coverage were.

In September 2017, Cosmopolitan settled 47 …

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Insured’s Liability for Defense Costs Not Appropriate for Interlocutory Appeal

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, November 16, 2020

This case follows an opinion and order by the same court regarding resolution of the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. The opinion and order affixed liability on Danaher and Atlas Copco for costs incurred by Travelers in defending certain asbestos and silica related bodily injury claims. Danaher and Atlas Copco moved for leave to file an interlocutory appeal, and North River (NR) moved for partial reconsideration, leave to file an interlocutory appeal, …

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Federal Court Holds Underlying Policies Exhausted by Settlement; Grants Summary Judgment to Insurer on Excess Policy Reinsurance Claim

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, October 19, 2020

An insurer and its reinsurer were involved in a dispute over the reinsurer’s liability to reimburse a portion of a settlement that the insured had allocated to an excess liability policy subject to a contract of reinsurance. The insurer had issued three excess liability insurance policies to Asarco Inc., as part of a “coverage tower,” sequential layers of insurance Asarco purchased as part of its annual insurance program. The reinsurer reinsured the …

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Judgment Modified, Declaration Vacated as Court Erred in Granting Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

The plaintiffs, Carrier Corporation and Elliott Company, filed a declaratory judgment and breach of contract action, wherein they sought declarations of the rights and obligations of the parties under liability insurance policies issued by various insurers, including the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company (defendant). Carrier Corporation and Elliott Company are once-related entities who face lawsuits alleging personal injuries from asbestos exposure relating to their products. In November 2018, the court granted five motions for partial summary judgment …

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New York Court Allows Allocation Based on General Date of First Exposure

In a 2018 decision, the court determined that “all sums” allocation and vertical exhaustion applied to the plaintiffs’ claims regarding coverage for amounts expended in the defense and resolution of lawsuits related to exposure to asbestos-containing products. The matter then proceeded to trial, where the parties presented evidence regarding dates of first exposure for underlying claims and expert opinion regarding allocation.

The court adopted the plaintiffs’ factual contentions and allocation methodology. Included in their allocation methodology was allocation of claims based on a general date …

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Illinois Court Holds Plaintiff Failed to Prove Coverage Allocation

John Crane, Inc. used asbestos fibers in the manufacture of gaskets, mechanical sealing, and packing products. It was named a defendant in over 325,000 cases involving personal injury claims based on asbestos exposure, and as a result became involved in a dispute with its insurers regarding coverage for such lawsuits. This decision was an appeal of a trial court judgment that (a) one of John Crane’s multi-year primary policies had annualized $20 million per occurrence limits, which resulted in a finding that the policy had …

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Ohio Appellate Court Applies “All Sums” and Vertical Exhaustion

William Powell Co. v. OneBeacon Ins. Co., 2020 Ohio App. LEXIS 2200 (Ohio Ct. At.. June 10, 2020)

The William Powell Company has been embroiled in a years-long dispute with its insurers regarding coverage for asbestos-related liabilities. In this decision, the court addressed whether the language of certain excess liability policies supported vertical exhaustion or horizontal exhaustion of coverage. Horizontal exhaustion means that all triggered primary policies must be exhausted before any excess policy can be triggered. Vertical exhaustion means that only the primary …

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Second Circuit Reverses $59 Million Reinsurance Coverage Decision

Second Circuit, April 28, 2020

An insurer and its reinsurer were engaged in a long-running dispute over whether the reinsurer was obligated to reimburse the insurer for amounts paid in settlement to Goulds Pump, Inc. The settlement between the insurer and Goulds related to thousands of personal injury claims made against Goulds due to exposure to asbestos contained in Goulds’ products.

When the insurer settled its liability under primary and umbrella policies it had issued to Goulds, the parties agreed that the primary policies—which had …

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Ohio District Court Denies Insurer’s Motion for Summary Judgment on Pollution Exclusion, Contribution, and Bad Faith

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, April 24, 2020

R.W. Beckett Corporation was sued in a large number of cases alleging harm from exposure to asbestos in gaskets used in oil burners Beckett produced from 1960 to 1986. For 16 years, Beckett paid its own litigation costs, but it later discovered several insurance policies that covered the relevant time periods. The insurers who issued those policies began paying Beckett’s litigation costs, dividing the costs between them in an informal cost …

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Use of Future Claims Representative Satisfied Due Process

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, February 19, 2020

The Johns-Manville Corporation entered bankruptcy in the early 1980s. In 1986, the bankruptcy court established a fund pursuant to a settlement with Johns-Manville’s insurers to compensate individuals injured by the corporation’s asbestos-containing products. The court then ordered that all claims—both those against Johns-Manville based on their products and those against its insurers related to their coverage for such claims—be brought against the trust that would administrate the fund. That trust still exists and processes claims from people …

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