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Judges rule on Evansville environmental coverage case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has determined a Marion County judge properly granted summary judgment in favor of a group of insurance companies because the city of Evansville was seeking coverage for projects aimed at preventing future sewer discharges, rather than remediating past discharges, which wouldn’t be covered by the policies.

The case involves Evansville’s century-old sewer system that partially drained into local waterways and led to pollution discharge permit disagreements in 2005 with the Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Departmental of Environmental Management. The city sued in 2007 seeking declaratory judgment against some of its insurers that they must provide coverage under the policies. The trial court eventually concluded the insurance policies at issue did not provide any coverage for the plaintiffs in the alleged liability, including fines and penalties as a result of the government’s actions against the city.

In analyzing the case, the appellate judges relied on the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision in Cinergy Corp. v. Associated Elec. & Gas Ins. Services, Inc., 865 N.E.2d 571 (Ind. 2007), known as “Cinergy I”, and the line of subsequent Cinergy cases from the Court of Appeals in the years following.

In City of Evansville and Evansville Water and Sewer Utility v. United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company, et al., No. 49A02-1104-PL-375, Judge Michael Barnes wrote that Cinergy I governs this action and precludes the city’s claim as a matter of law. The judges rejected and found “immaterial” Evansville’s claim that Cinergy I is distinguishable from this current case.

“The holding of Cinergy I is that prevention of future environmental harm, rather than remediation of past contamination, is not an ‘occurrence’ under insurance policies, and the policies at issue here contain similar provisions,” Barnes wrote. “The differences between the instant action and Cinergy I do not impact that ultimate holding.”
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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