New York State Trial Court Addresses “Trigger of Coverage” for Asbestos Claims and Other Coverage Issues

Person in chemical suit

Paul Briganti of White and Williams discusses the notable Carrier decision.

January 21, 2019
Paul Briganti - White and Williams

On November 21, 2018, the New York Supreme Court, Onondaga County, issued a summary-judgment ruling on a number of coverage issues arising from asbestos-related bodily injury claims against plaintiffs Carrier Corporation (Carrier) and Elliott Company (Elliott). See Carrier Corp., et al. v. Travelers Indem. Co., et al., Index No. 2005-EG-7032 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Nov. 21, 2018).

First, the court held that under New York’s “injury in fact trigger of coverage,” injury occurs from the first date of exposure to asbestos through death or the filing of suit. The court primarily relied on: (1) New York federal court decisions and the Delaware Supreme Court’s decision in In re Viking Pump, Inc., 148 A.3d 633 (Del. 2016) holding that injury continues from first exposure through death or the assertion of a claim; and (2) medical and scientific evidence that the plaintiffs had submitted in support of their motion. The court specifically declined to follow Continental Cas. v. Wausau, 60 A.D.3d 128 (1st Dep’t 2008) (Keasbey), in which the New York Appellate Division found a question of fact whether injury occurs from exposure to asbestos through manifestation and that summary judgment was therefore inappropriate. The Carrier court stated that Keasbey was distinguishable because it “involved operations coverage, a non-product claim, and thus the [Keasbey] Court required a more stringent proof of injury in fact than is necessary here, in a products case.” Carrier, op. at 8. The Carrier court was also dismissive of affidavits offered by the defendant-insurer’s medical experts, finding that the affidavits did not create an issue of fact. See Op. at 2-9.

Mr. Briganti may be contacted at brigantip@whiteandwilliams.com



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