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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. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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