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COA: Insurers have no duty to defend Cinergy

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today that the insurers of Cinergy, which was bought out by Duke Energy in 2006, have no duty to defend, indemnify, or otherwise provide coverage in connection with Cinergy's alleged liability for violations of the Clean Air Act at certain plants. The dispute over the insurers' obligations has been ongoing for years and previously litigated twice in the state's appellate courts.

The Indiana Supreme Court in Cinergy Corp. v. Associated Electric & Gas Insurance Services, Ltd., 865 N.E.2d 571 (Ind. 2007), (Cinergy I), determined the insurers in that case had no duty to defend or indemnify Cinergy in connection with the power company's alleged violations of the Clean Air Act based on the policies. The policy requirement that covered damages resulting from the happening of an occurrence doesn't mean that coverage extended to damages that result from the prevention of an occurrence, the high court ruled. In Cinergy Corp. v. St. Paul Surplus Lines Ins. Co., 873 N.E.2d 105 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007), (Cinergy II), the Court of Appeals affirmed the entry of partial summary judgment for the insurers after concluding Cinergy failed to establish that there was a "potential occurrence" during the 1983-1984 policy term year at the Cayuga Plant. The COA concluded there was neither an actual or potential occurrence under the policy at issue as that term was interpreted in Cinergy I.

In the instant case, Cinergy Corp., Duke Energy Indiana Inc., and Duke Energy Ohio Inc. v. St. Paul Surplus Lines Insurance Co., et al., No. 32A04-0810-CV-622, St. Paul and other insurers moved for summary judgment seeking an order declaring they have no obligation to defend or indemnify Cinergy for any of the claims being adjudicated in an ongoing lawsuit filed in 1999 in federal court for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at six power plants. Cinergy wanted the issue of indemnity determination postponed until the federal litigation was resolved; the trial court denied that and ruled the insurers didn't have any obligation to Cinergy for these violations.

Relying on Cinergy I and Cinergy II, the Court of Appeals determined the relief demanded in the underlying federal litigation isn't covered under the insurers' policies. In May 2009, the District Court ordered three units at a Terre Haute facility shut down, ordered Duke to pay fines on another plant, and permanently surrender sulfur dioxide emission allowances in an amount equal to the amount of sulfur dioxide emissions from those three units during a specific time period.

The order included remedies designed to prevent future environmental harm, which aren't covered damages under the insurers' policies, per Cinergy I, wrote Judge Paul Mathias.

"Because preventing future emissions and environmental harm is not an occurrence under the terms of the Insurers' policies, we conclude that the trial court properly determined that the Insurers have no obligation to defend, indemnify, or otherwise provide coverage to Cinergy for the claims being litigated in the underlying federal litigation concerning Cinergy's violations of the Clean Air Act," wrote Judge Mathias.

Penalties and attorneys' fees are also not covered by the insurance policies, as those issues were settled in Cinergy I and Cinergy II, he wrote. The Court of Appeals also determined the trial court didn't err in denying the postponement of the indemnity determination pending dispositive developments in the federal litigation. Cinergy didn't cite any Indiana authority requiring a court to postpone a coverage determination until after the underlying liability trial has finished.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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