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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. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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