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COA will not reweigh California environmental cleanup decisions

October 9, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that it would not reweigh California court decisions in favor of insurers who had no responsibility to cover environmental cleanup costs at former Thomson plants.

“There do not seem to be any special circumstances in this case that would warrant departure from the general rule that comity favors deference to the California courts,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the unanimous panel. “The trial court did not abuse its discretion in deferring to the California decision.”

At issue in Thomson, Inc. n/k/a Technicolor USA, Inc., Technicolor Inc., and Technicolor Limited v. Continental Casualty Co., Travelers Casualty & Surety Co., et al., 49A02-1202-PL-80, were the costs of environmental cleanup at facilities Thomson owned, including two sites in Marion and one in Fort Wayne that Thomson had purchased from Technicolor.

In 2010, a California trial court issued a summary judgment concluding that California law applied to the interpretation of policies regarding the Technicolor sites, and California courts upheld the decision on appeal.

“Thomson did not file for summary judgment on the choice-of-law question in the Indiana action until approximately ten months after the California trial court had already ruled against it on the same question, and there is no indication that the California suit was not proceeding normally in the California court system,” Bradford wrote.

“We believe it is also worth noting that the effect of giving deference to the California decision has the effect of applying California law to those sites contaminated by Technicolor, apparently a California-based company before Thomson’s acquisition, and applying Indiana law to those sites contaminated by Thomson, an Indiana-based company, including three sites in Indiana.”


 

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