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 …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
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.…Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
CALIFORNIA — Plaintiff Polar-Mohr Maschinenvertriebsgesellschaft (Polar-Mohr) was sued by claimants seeking damages for the alleged wrongful death of their father, a former service technician for Polar-Mohr machines who died from mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos and/or asbestos-containing products. Polar-Mohr sought coverage from Zurich American Insurance Company as an additional insured on a policy issued by Zurich to Heidelberg Eastern, which was Polar-Mohr’s only customer during the policy period. The issues before the court were whether Zurich’s liability to Polar-Mohr would be based on pro-rata …Continue Reading