Environmental and Mass Torts Coverage

Our attorneys regularly represent insurers in complex, multi-party coverage disputes with potential exposure in the hundreds of millions of dollars. These claims — which may arise out of environmental contamination and pollution, toxic tort, or product liability — often involve significant exposure regarding a policyholder’s core business.

It is often critical in a large-scale loss that counsel “gets on the ground.” At Goldberg Segalla, we partner with the foremost industry consultants at all stages of a claim and throughout the course of coverage litigation, working to ensure that the technical aspects of each case are properly addressed. Our collective experience with the CERCLA/Superfund, RCRA, Clean Air Act, CPSC, and a wide variety of other federal and state statutes serves our clients well in insurance disputes.

We have handled a wide variety of coverage disputes arising from contaminated property and personal injury issues, including, exposure to hazardous materials, leaking underground storage tanks, Legionnaires’ Disease, natural gas fracking, occupational health and safety issues, oil and gas spills, sick building syndrome, storage and transport of hazardous chemicals, professional negligence claims concerning environmental consultants, and soil cleanup. We have also litigated cases dealing with the release of hazardous substances from landfills; the discharge of hazardous materials from manufacturing operations; and the analysis of claims for contamination of navigable waters, aquifers, drinking water sources, and groundwater.

Goldberg Segalla attorneys are nationally recognized environmental and mass tort coverage specialists, and have co-authored multiple innovative environmental liability insurance products widely used in the excess and surplus lines insurance market to address environmental pollution and environmental professional risks.

In addition, our attorneys have successfully litigated in state and federal courts on issues such as:

  • Proper interpretation of the pollution, asbestos, and occupational disease exclusions
  • Negotiation of cost-share and commutations of policies
  • Number of occurrences
  • What constitutes a “suit“
  • Allocation of costs
  • Successor liability
  • Self-insured retentions
  • Insolvency
  • Waiver and estoppel
  • Trigger of coverage and exhaustion

Representative Matters

  • In a case of first impression nationally, Goldberg Segalla attorneys obtained a precedent-setting decision from the Connecticut Appellate Court finding that the “occupational disease” exclusion served as a bar to coverage for workplace toxic exposure claims for workers not employed by the insured. The court declared that nothing in the provision’s plain language limited the exclusion to claims brought by a policyholder’s own employees or exclusively to the workers’ compensation context.
  • We served as trial and appellate counsel in multi-jurisdictional declaratory judgment actions to reform historic commercial general liability policies to reflect intent to include asbestos exclusions, which resulted in a case touching on several issues of first impression, ending in a precedent-setting verdict in favor of the insurance industry.
  • We served as coverage, trial, and appellate counsel in several multi-party insurance coverage declaratory judgment disputes arising out of thousands of complaints where the underlying plaintiffs alleged bodily injury caused by exposure to benzene- and asbestos-containing materials.
  • We obtained a ruling in favor of our client involving insurance coverage for environmental claims arising from sewage discharge from 50 property owners onto an adjacent property. The court held that our client’s pollution exclusion, and the biological deterioration or damage exclusion, in its policies barred coverage for numerous claims arising from the alleged discharge of sewage. 
  • Goldberg Segalla attorneys prevailed before the Delaware Supreme Court in a coverage matter involving whether an exclusion pertained to a claim for personal injuries suffered as a result of alleged in-home carbon monoxide poisoning. In an issue of first impression, the Delaware court concluded that the claim was not covered under our client’s unambiguous pollution exclusion, paving the way for other insurers facing similar claims in the jurisdiction.
  • We served as national coverage counsel for a Canadian insurer in relation to dozens of lawsuits across the country involving our client’s Canadian insured and its American subsidiary. The insured was named in dozens of product liability lawsuits across the United States, asserting that it manufactured defective gas grills that caused fires and property damage. The client turned to us because of our expertise in complex insurance coverage disputes, ability to handle matters in multiple jurisdictions, and our knowledge of bankruptcy issues.
  • We obtained a dismissal for our client in a coverage case arising out of hundreds of noise-induced hearing loss cases across the country, brought by firefighters against siren manufacturers. Our client issued a dozen primary and excess policies, and the coverage case involved complex issues such as number of occurrences, application of SIRs, and satisfaction of SIRs through payments by third-party sources.