Insurance Policy Interpretation Case

What does the policy mean? A good question for anybody in Mansfield, Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Colleyville, and other cities in Texas.
The answer is hard. The short and quick answer is: Consult with an experienced Insurance Law Attorney. The longer answer is: It depends. Each case and each policy and each set of facts is different and have to be looked at in light of all together.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, recently was called on to interpret an insurance policy and to determine whether or not the facts of a claim implicated coverage in the policy at issue. The opinion in the case was issued on July 16, 2010. The style of the case is, Standard Waste Systems Ltd. v. Mid-Continent Casualty Co., Mid-Contitent Insurance Co., Oklahoma Surety Co. The justices were, Dennis, Owen, and Southwick.
In this case, Standard Waste Systems Ltd. appealed from the district court’s ruling in favor of Mid-Continent Casualty Co. and Oklahoma Surety Co. Standard sought coverage from the insurers for damages arising out of a personal injury lawsuit in the Eastern District of Oklahoma. The district court found that the policy at issue contained an exclusion that negated the insurance companies duty to defend. This Court affirmed that finding.
In the underlying lawsuit, the plaintiffs asserted claims for negligence against Standard, J.B. Hunt, and The Scotts Company based on personal injuries the plaintiffs suffered as a result of exposure to a hazardous chemical. The plaintiffs, employees at the Georgia-Pacific paper plant, were injured after handling the contents of a trailer delivered to Georgia-Pacific by J.B. Hunt and loaded with scrap paper by Standard.
The insurance policy at issue here had a pollution exclusion which stated the policy does not apply to:
(1) “Bodily injury” or “property damage” arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of “pollutants”:
(a) At or from any premises, site or location which is or was at any time owned or occupied by, or rented or loaned to, any insured …

(c) Which are or were at any time transported, handled, stored, treated, disposed of, or processed as waste by or for:
(i) Any insured; or (ii) Any person or organization for whom you may be legally responsible …
The policy defined “pollutants” as “any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste. Waste includes materials to be recycled, reconditioned or reclaimed.”
The Court nexted looked to the facts being alleged in the paperwork filed by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and found that: (1) “none of the various complaints alleges any facts that would support liability on Standard if Standard were not the source of the chemical”; and (2) “the liability allegations regarding Standard make sense only in the context of alleging that Standard was the source of the chemical.”
The pollution exclusion in Standard’s policy bars coverage for claims of bodily injury from pollutants if Standard was the source of the pollutant. Thus, the Insurers only had a duty to defend Standard in the underlying litigation if the underlying complaints allege that Standard is liable independent of Standard being the source of the hazardous material.
Granted this case is hard to fully follow without reading the whole thing. What is relevant is seeing how the courts look at the policy and the facts presented in the claim being made to determine whether or not there is coverage under the policy.

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