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White and Williams Insurance Coverage Team Scores Another Win in an Environmental Coverage Case

January 31, 2012

On January 31, 2012, the Supreme Court of New York granted summary judgment on behalf of our client, the Northern Assurance Company of America (NOAC), with respect to a significant environmental waste site in Long Island Lighting Co. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. The court held that the policyholder failed to provide NOAC with timely notice of the site, which had been the location of a manufactured gas plant (MGP) from the late 1800s until the early 1970s. The court emphasized the fact that, in August 1991, a neighboring landowner threatened to sue the policyholder for $1.3 million, alleging that groundwater contamination from the MGP site had migrated onto the neighboring property. Other facts that the court noted were that: (1) in 1992 and before, the policyholder and others had conducted environmental investigations of the site, which confirmed on-site and off-site contamination; and (2) the policyholder had decided to clean up the site as a proactive measure because it expected to receive a government mandate to remediate its contaminated MGP sites. Despite knowing these facts, the insured did not notify NOAC until 1994. The court concluded that this delay was unreasonable as a matter of New York law.

Robert Walsh argued the motion on behalf of NOAC and was assisted by Paul Briganti.   

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