Court rules in favor of insurer in environmental cleanup dispute

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A release executed between a chemical manufacturing business and its insurer that relieved the insurer from claims or demands related to remediation was unambiguous and covered all policies held by the company, not just the primary liability ones, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co. was the general liability insurer of Warsaw Chemical Company when Warsaw learned of environmental contamination. Warsaw sought reimbursement for the remediation pursuant to its primary and excess policies. The insurer denied coverage under primary and excess liability policies. In 1992, the two entered into the release in exchange for $25,000.

Fifteen years later, Warsaw sued, arguing that the release only covered primary liability polices and there should be coverage under the excess policies. The trial court ultimately entered judgment in favor of Warsaw for $417,953.

At issue in United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company v. Warsaw Chemical Company, Inc., 49A04-1203-CT-97, is the language in the 1992 release and the distinction between recitals – or “whereas” clauses – and operative language in contracts. The release stated that USF&G would be forever discharged “from any further claims … .” The Court of Appeals held under the binding precedent of Irwin’s Bank v. Fletcher, etc. Trust Co. Rec (1924) 195 Ind. 699, 145 N.E. 869, 146 N.E. 869, and Kerfoot v. Kessener (1949) 227 Ind. 58, 84 N.E.2d 190, the recitals referencing only the primary policies may not be used to interpret the unambiguous operative language releasing the insurer from any further claims.

The judges rejected Warsaw’s claim that those cases are no longer good law based on OEC-Diasonics Inc. v. Major, 674 N.E.2d 1312 (Ind. 1996).

“Recital language that arguably suggests that the release applied to only some of the insurance policies Warsaw had with USF&G does not trump this clear language. Because the Release covered the excess policies, the trial court erred in denying USF&G’s summary judgment motion on this point. We therefore reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for entry of summary judgment in favor of USF&G,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote.



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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.