ILNews

State Supreme Court rules in favor of power company insurers

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court said today that insurance carriers are not required to pay for power companies' costs incurred in a federal lawsuit, nor the installation of new equipment to reduce pollution as ordered in a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States.

In Cinergy Corp and Duke Energy v. Associated Electric & Gas Insurance Services, et al., 32S05-0604-CV-151, the state's highest court issued a 17-page unanimous opinion affirming a decision by Hendricks Superior Judge David H. Coleman. The trial judge had denied a motion by the power companies Cinergy and Duke for partial summary judgment.

Nineteen insurance companies had filed a complaint against Cinergy and Duke, wanting to determine the extent of the their insurance obligations with respect to a federal lawsuit relating to pollution reduction filed against the power companies by the United States, three states, and several environmental organizations. That case, U.S. v. Cinergy Corp. et al., No. 06-1224, was decided last year by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. It upheld a decision by District Court Judge Larry McKinney in the Southern District of Indiana that an increase in actual emissions at industrial plants triggers new source review requirements for plants to install emissions controls.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in April, following a decision in a similar lawsuit that held the utility companies must install pollution control equipment on aging coal-fired power plants across the country.

According to this Indiana Supreme Court decision, the power companies filed a motion for plaintiff AEGIS to pay the more than $4 million the power companies have spent in defending itself in that Cinergy case - an amount exceeding the self-insured retention amount of up to $1 million. Costs include complying with the recent SCOTUS opinion that requires them to install equipment to reduce future emissions of pollutants, according to the state suit.

The insurance carriers - AEGIS - contended that the policies provide no coverage for claims made against the power companies in the federal suit, and therefore have no duty to pay defense costs.

The justices held that the phrase "ultimate net loss" as used in the insurance policies at issue, does not impose any responsibility on the carrier to pay for sums that the power companies might be legally obligated to pay as "ultimate net loss" for the costs of installing government-mandated equipment.

Justice Brent Dickson authored the opinion and wrote, "We affirm the trial court's denial of the motion because it seeks relief more extensive than that to which the power companies are entitled. ... Because the AEGIS insurance policies do not provide coverage for the costs of installing such equipment, the trial court did not err in denying partial summary judgment seeking to compel payment of all costs incurred by the power companies in defending all claims in the federal lawsuit."
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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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