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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. 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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