Munter's tentative decision could help the industry quash future lawsuits questioning when completed operations and product hazard provisions limiting coverage go into effect — a "highly litigious" issue, according to insurance defense attorneys.
During the lawsuit against its insurers, Plant argued once asbestos-related bodily injury claims are deemed to stem from active operations under the policy in place at the time of the installation, they should be considered the same under all subsequent policies. Plant's argument is based on its contention that policy provisions addressing completed operations and product hazard limits were ambiguous and left open to interpretation.
Munter wrote in the
The underlying case stems from lawsuits filed against Plant since the 1970s by claimants who said they suffered bodily injuries related to asbestos insulation installed by the company.
Plant's insurers issued primary and excess CGL policies between 1958 and 1985. Under those policies, the insurers defended and indemnified Plant for over two decades. By 2001, the insurers had paid more than
Had Plant's interpretation of the completed operations and product hazard provisions in its policies been upheld, its insurers could have had to provide substantial additional coverage. Plant has settled with several of its insurers.
The remaining insurers named as defendants in Plant's suit seeking a declaration that it was owed additional coverage are
Tanc Schiavoni, a
At this stage, Munter's decision is considered tentative because the parties in the case can still challenge the ruling. Under
Recently, other states have taken moves to limit asbestos litigation.