Environmental Insurance Coverage Litigation

Environmental remediation of allegedly contaminated industrial sites continues to be a focus of government regulators and a substantial source of potential liability for companies nationwide.

Through our representation of a leading manufacturer of building products in multiple litigation proceedings, Gilbert spearheaded our client’s efforts to recover insurance proceeds for defense and remediation costs arising from several environmental sites around the country.

Our client’s insurers denied coverage for the environmental matters at issue on numerous grounds, none of which we or our client viewed as meritorious. In one case, several of the insurers filed a summary judgment motion arguing that their policies were inapplicable to our client’s claim because our client acquired the site at issue after their policy periods. We defeated the motion, securing a ruling that the insurers’ coverage obligations were triggered by property damage during the insurers’ policy periods regardless of whether our client owned the site at the time.

In another case, we secured a favorable ruling on summary judgment that our clients’ insurance policies were triggered from the inception of environmental contamination (which occurred many decades ago) through the time that the effects of the contamination manifest (within the past few years). The insurers argued that only policies covering the period when the environmental contamination became manifest were triggered, but those policies, like virtually all policies after the mid-1980s, contain broad pollution exclusions. Under the summary judgment ruling we secured, our client had access to decades worth of insurance coverage.  Had the insurers prevailed, no coverage would have been available for the client’s environmental liabilities.

Gilbert’s victories on these issues paved the way for settlements with most of the client’s insurers, while preserving our client’s rights regarding the remaining non-settled coverage.