ILNews

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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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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