Goldberg Segalla’s Larry D. Mason, partner in the Global Insurance Services and Environmental Law practices, spoke with Law360 regarding the beginnings of coverage disputes over pollution in case law and also provided insight into coverage in relation to toxic forever chemicals in New York state.
Larry concluded that case law for pollution coverage was unclear in the late 1980s and that this spanned well into the 1990s. However, he also explained that with the early 2000s, there came a “reasonably settled precedent.” “Over the past 10 years, challenges in environmental coverage disputes have shifted to the substances involved and the allegations in the underlying complaint,” he expanded further.
Additionally, Larry discussed the recent New York appeals court agreement with a trial court that an insurer had no duty of coverage for a manufacturer in suits that accuse the company of polluting the environment with forever chemicals, such as PFOA and PFOS. Larry explained that “PFOA and PFOS are pollutants under the definition of that term within the meaning of the exclusion.”
“An insurer doesn’t have to have an omnibus list of every single contaminant, substance and pollutant listed and defined as part of its classification of a pollutant,” he continued. “It would be daunting and beyond what is expected to put the policyholder on notice of what is or is not within the scope of coverage.”
Larry D. Mason is a renowned trial and appellate litigator and counselor to many national and international businesses across diverse industries. Based in Chicago but with experience litigating and counseling clients through complicated and high-profile matters across the country and internationally, he dedicates most of his practice to insurance coverage, reinsurance, commercial litigation, environmental and toxic torts, and complex insurance regulatory matters. He also focuses on professional liability for clients in insurance, environmental, construction, and related industries; products liability; and identifying emerging risks. He brings his extensive experience to leadership positions in the firm, where he is chair of the Environmental and Mass Torts Coverage, First-Party Property, and Construction Coverage subgroups.