Friday, July 13, 2012

Travelers Casualty & Surety Co. v. Providence Washington Ins

Jul 12: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, No. 11-2193. Appealed from the District Court of Rhode Island, Providence. In summarizing the case the Appeals Court indicates that, invoking diversity jurisdiction, appellant Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, Inc. (Travelers) sought a declaratory judgment that appellee Providence Washington Insurance Company, Inc. (PWIC) is obliged to join in the defense of New England Container Company, Inc. (NE Container or NECC), in connection with a contribution action involving clean-up costs for the Rhode Island Centredale Manor Superfund Site. Granting summary judgment to PWIC, the district court ruled that PWIC did not owe NE Container a duty to defend in the underlying action. The Appeals Court ruled, "On Travelers' appeal, we reverse the decision, vacate the judgment, and remand."
    The Appeals Court concludes, "In the end, we conclude that under the pleadings test, the Emhart complaint [Emhart Industries, Inc. also a responsible party] triggered PWIC's duty to defend under its policies issued in the mid-1980s. In so holding, we recognize that there is exponentially more to this sprawling litigation than the Emhart complaint and the PWIC policies. Litigation involving environmental damage at the Superfund Site was well on its way prior to the 2006 Emhart action, and the Emhart action had advanced beyond a nascent stage by the time Travelers pursued its 2010 action against PWIC. The duty to defend question before us, however, begins and ends with the Rhode Island pleadings test. Having concluded this task, our review is complete.
    "We reverse the district court's decision, vacate the judgment in favor of PWIC, and remand for the district court to enter judgment in favor of Travelers that the Emhart complaint triggered PWIC's defense obligations under its policies. Any remaining requests for relief sought by Travelers will be addressed by the district court in due course."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Haz, #Remed, #CA1]
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