Long-Time Pollution Leaks, While Unintended, Were Not Sudden and Accidental
Description Court held that a comprehensive liability insurance policy that covered damages from "sudden and accidental" pollution releases does not include damages from long time leaks that caused damage. Words in policies are to have their ordinary meaning; the leaks were not sudden.
Topic Insurance
Key Words Pollution; Comprehensive Liability; Sudden and Accidental
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts From 1975 to 1986, defendant Federal Insurance sold comprehensive general liability insurance policies to Buell, and, from 1980 to 1985, umbrella liability insurance. Buell filed an action to determine its rights in connection with costs it incurred for the investigation and remediation of pollution contamination at its manufacturing facilities in Connecticut. The costs are expected to be on-going. Federal moved for summary judgment.
Decision Granted. "Federal's policies exclude from coverage any 'bodily injury or property damage arising out of the discharge, dispersal, release or escape of smoke, vapors, soot, fumes, acid, alkalies, toxic chemicals, liquids or gases, waste materials or other irritants, contaminants or pollutants into or upon land [air or water]; but this exclusion does not apply if such discharge ... is sudden and accidental.'" Buell argues that this covers pollution damage that is unintended. But "words in an insurance policy should be interpreted in their plain and ordinary sense." Unintentional leakage of pollution over many years is not "sudden" so the policy does not cover the costs of cleaning up the pollution.
Citation Buell Industries, Inc. v. Greater New York Mutual Ins. Co., 2000 WL 1337471 (Super. Ct., Conn., 2000)

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