environmental
Practices

Environmental Insurance Coverage

Environmental coverage issues remain a concern throughout the United States and specifically in the Pacific Northwest.

We have been involved in the majority of the environmental insurance coverage cases litigated in Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest.  We have the trial experience necessary to meet the challenges presented by the complex issues and extensive discovery in those cases.

We represent primary, excess, and umbrella insurers in environmental coverage disputes concerning all types of environmental sites, including multi-party Superfund sites, contaminated ports and harbors, leaking underground storage tank sites, and dry cleaner sites.

Representative Matters

Forsberg & Umlauf coverage attorneys obtained summary judgment on three separate motions in a mining entrepreneur’s claim for defense and indemnity under excess CGL policies. The plaintiff insured sought reimbursement of approximately $20.5 million in indemnity costs and $28 million in defense costs related to its alleged liability for the construction, operation, and eventual abandonment of the Summitville Mine in southern Colorado.  The trial court granted complete summary judgment dismissal of the case while adopting the insurer’s arguments that: (1) the plaintiff had already been made whole for the indemnity claim by settlements with other parties and insurers; (2) the insurer had no duty under its policies to provide a defense to the plaintiff, or to reimburse him for his defense costs; and (3) that the plaintiff’s claims were excluded by the pollution exclusions in the policies.

We represented insurers who issued policies with combined liability limits in excess of $50 million in a multi-party contribution lawsuit regarding potential coverage for over 1,000 toxic tort claims and environmental claims arising out of polluted sites across the country.  A seven-week jury trial resulted in a partial defense verdict, with the jury concluding that the pollution exclusions in various policies precluded coverage for the environmental claims. 

Forsberg & Umlauf attorneys represented an insurer in coverage litigation in Oregon federal court against an aircraft parts manufacturer’s claim for indemnity coverage. The court granted summary judgment in favor of our client, and held that the cost associated with the insured plaintiff’s pretreatment system was an “ordinary cost of doing business” in compliance with regulatory licensing requirements, and therefore, was not a covered indemnity cost under our client's liability policies. 

Our attorneys successfully represented a national insurer in connection with an alleged multi-million dollar environmental coverage exposure involving radioactive contamination of a municipal sewer system by prevailing on summary judgment.