Insurer Must Defend Claims of Alleged Willful Coal Removal

June 21, 2017
Tred R. Eyerly - Insurance Law Hawaii

The court found that the insured was entitled to a defense against claims for its alleged willful removal of coal from third parties' land. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Bizzack Constr, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70285 (W.D. Va. April 27, 2017).

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) contracted with Bizzack to perform work in widening U.S. Route 460. VDOT notified coal owners that it had been "necessary to remove certain coal" from their land during the construction of Route 460. Some of the coal owners sued Bizzack, seeking compensation for lost coal. They alleged Bizzack had illegally removed and sold their coal, and "damaged the remaining coal in place on the property."

Bizzack sought coverage from Liberty Mutual. Liberty Mutual filed suit seeking a declaration that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Bizzack. Cross-motions for summary judgment were filed. Liberty Mutual argued: (1) there was no "occurrence"; (2) exclusion j (5) applied; and (3) the "expected or intended injury" exclusion applied.

Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at


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