A Louisiana court recently denied an excess insurer’s bid for summary judgment, finding that the insurer’s interpretation of a pollution exclusion would lead to “absurd results.”
Central Crude, Inc., a crude oil transporter company, experienced an oil pipeline leak, allegedly causing damage to property belonging to Columbia Gas Transmission Company. Columbia Gas sued Central Crude seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief to compel remediation of the site. Central Crude sought coverage under a CGL primary insurance policy issued by Liberty Mutual. The insurer initially agreed to cover Central Crude’s “reasonable and necessary costs” relating to the incident, but later refused to defend or indemnify Central Crude for any costs incurred from the incident. As a result, Central Crude brought suit against Liberty Mutual and its excess insurer, Great American, to enforce coverage.
Great American moved for summary judgment arguing coverage was excluded by the excess policy’s pollution exclusion, which precludes coverage for injury “arising out of a discharge of pollutants.” Central Crude responded arguing that the exclusion’s applicability was invalidated or at least rendered ambiguous by the Following Form Endorsements, which reflect an intent to mirror the coverage afforded under the primary Liberty Mutual policy, and because coverage appears to be specifically authorized through the Premises Operations Liability Endorsement.
Reprinted courtesy of Sergio F. Oehninger, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Daniel Hentschel, Hunton Andrews Kurth
Mr. Oehninger may be contacted at soehninger@HuntonAK.com
Mr. Hentschel may be contacted at dhentschel@HuntonAK.com