May It Please The Court: Weblog of legal news and observations, including a quote of the day and daily updates

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Quote of the Day - Justice is the insurance which we have on our lives and property. Obedience is the premium which we pay for it. - William Penn
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The Absolute Pollution Exclusion Isn't

If you spray pesticides and you get sued, your insurance company cannot deny coverage under the so-called "absolute" pollution exclusion. Today, California's Supreme Court ruled: "the pollution exclusion does not plainly and clearly exclude ordinary acts of negligence involving the application of pesticide." MacKinnon v. Truck Ins. Exchange (Farmers)

This decision dramatically changes the landscape of coverage for environmental claims. The Court's opinion tried to tie the coverage into the insured's "understanding" of what should be covered in an insurance policy.

What is striking about this case is the Court's determination that most insureds wouldn't think that pesticides are excluded because they're not typically covered by environmental laws.

Oddly enough, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) regulates pesticides in the same way that most other toxics are under other federal environmental regulations.

We can expect insurance companies to rewrite the "absolute pollution exclusion." In the meantime, lawyers will challenge denials of claims more.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, August 15, 2003 at 19:39 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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