Environmental Insurance Coverage

As politicians, regulators and the public heighten their focus on environmental issues and the number and monetary value of claims and lawsuits continues to rise, insurers face an increasingly complex environmental insurance landscape. Insurance companies need legal counsel that can help them evaluate existing coverage, draft effective policies that incorporate emerging issues, and quickly resolve disputes through effective negotiation, mediation, arbitration and, when necessary, litigation.

For decades, our attorneys have handled significant environmental coverage matters in state and federal courts throughout the United States under both general liability and pollution policies. Often with the assistance of our nationally recognized environmental and regulatory practitioners, our environmental insurance coverage attorneys tackle some of the most complex insurance issues in the industry. We have successfully litigated matters involving a wide range of insureds, including oil and gas companies, chemical companies, and manufacturers of a variety of products. Our attorneys also prepare comprehensive settlement packages, formulating legal and factual positions on behalf of clients that seek to reduce projected clean-up costs, increase participation by other potentially responsible parties, minimize defense costs, and resolve the matters in the most comprehensive and expeditious manner possible.

  • Obtained a victory for our insurer client under an environmental pollution policy in federal district court which was upheld on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
  • Achieved a de minimis settlement with a major airport in connection with underground diesel fuel leaks arising from earthquake damage.
  • Obtained a state court of appeals ruling that the insured’s failure to give notice to the insurer of environmental contamination and assigning insurance rights to a third party prejudiced the insurer as a matter of law, relieving the insurer of any obligation to defend.
  • Settled a complex environmental claim involving scores of hazardous waste sites where our client had the primary coverage. In addition to resolving the pending claims against this chemical company insured, we assisted the client in obtaining a full policy release, eliminating substantial further exposure.
  • Represented an insurer in the Nebraska Supreme Court, defeating the insured’s effort to hold the insurer jointly and severally liable for nearly $10 million in damages for costs associated with environmental contamination that spanned forty years. The state Supreme Court severely limited the claimed damages and made significant favorable rulings regarding pro rata allocation, number of occurrences, and damages issues that substantially limited the insurer’s coverage obligations and established significant positive precedent on these previously unresolved issues in Nebraska.
  • Represented an insurer in a lead-contamination case alleging hundreds of millions of dollars in damages which raised duty to defend and consent to settle issues, winning on motion before the trial court and on appeal to the Eleventh Circuit.

Rankings & Recognition

  • Chambers USA - Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer – Nationwide (2007-2017)
  • Chambers USA - Insurance: Insurer – District of Columbia (2005-2017)
  • Chambers USA - Insurance: Insurer – California (2007-2017)
  • U.S. News & World Report - Best Law Firms: Insurance Law – National (2010-2017)
  • U.S. News & World Report - Best Law Firms: Insurance Law – Metropolitan Washington, DC (2010-2017)
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