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Appellate court rules on insurance coverage case

December 6, 2011

The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a group of insurance companies that argued a waste management company couldn’t seek coverage for asbestos and related worker injuries under policies signed by corporate predecessors before 1986.

In Continental Insurance Co., National Fire Insurance Co. of Hartford, Continental Casualty Co., and Columbia Casualty Co. v. Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc., and Waste Management Holdings, Inc., No. 49A02-1010-PL-1110, the appellate court reversed a ruling by Marion Superior Judge Ted Sosin and found in favor of the insurance companies.

The case involved pre-1986 coverage that involved Allied Signal – now Honeywell International – selling assets and liability to the predecessor of Waste Management, when the insurance companies issued occurrence-based insurance policies to Honeywell’s predecessor. Since then, Waste Management has been sued by claimants on allegations that they suffered from asbestos and other related injuries while working in a building housing a filtration process.

Sosin ruled that Waste Management could seek coverage from the insurers whose predecessors had issued liability policies back in 1986, but the appellate court disagreed.

Relying on the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision in Casualty and Surety Co., et al. v. United States Filter Corp., 895 N.E.2d 1172 (Ind. 2008) which involved similar issues and parties, the Court of Appeals found in favor of the insurers.

No insurance coverage rights transferred to Waste Management by virtue of the 1986 agreements signed by all the predecessors when new agreements were signed in 2009, the appellate court’s majority found using the U.S. Filter rationale. Honeywell was no longer liable for the claims on the date it entered into the agreements in 2009, and Judge Paul Mathias wrote that Waste Management hasn’t directed the court to any evidence or argument that would warrant a different result.

Judge James Kirsch dissented without a separate opinion, and the case is remanded.

 

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