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Oregon Federal Court: Participation in Superfund Site ADR Part of Defense Obligation

Judge Marco Hernandez recently issued his rulings after a bench trial in the long-running Ash Grove Cement Co v. Liberty Mutual et al. environmental coverage litigation.  In 2008 Ash Grove became embroiled in the Portland Harbor Superfund Site when it received a “104(e)” information demand from the EPA.  When Ash Grove’s insurers (including Liberty and … Continue Reading

Insurer Gets Creative Seeking to Defeat SB 814 Independent Counsel Provision

Insurer CNA has filed its brief in the long running Schnitzer coverage litigation concerning defense coverage at the Portland Harbor Superfund Site and it’s interesting reading.  The issue here is not the duty to defend per se, because Schnitzer’s insurers are defending. The issue rather is whether the “independent counsel” provision of SB 814, the amendment to … Continue Reading

Oregon Supreme Court Will Review Landmark Case on Stipulated Judgments

The Oregon Supreme Court has accepted review in the landmark Brownstone Homes Condo Ass’n v. Brownstone Forest Heights LLC case, on the issue of stipulated judgments.  To simplify greatly, the case involves a developer (the LLC) that was sued along with one of its subcontractors, A&T Siding, by the condo association.  A&T was denied coverage by its … Continue Reading

Duty to Cooperate Alive and Well in Oregon

Insurers are celebrating the new decision from Oregon’s federal district court in the long-running Charter Oak et al. v. Interstate Mechanical et al. case finding that the policyholder lost all coverage by breaching the duty to cooperate.  In my view, this is a bad-facts-make-bad-law situation involving a fact pattern not likely to be repeated, that will unduly … Continue Reading

Oregon In What Is Now Majority Across the County on Coverage for Construction Defect Claims

Really nice post the other day by our friends at DC-based Dickstein Shapiro on the recent change in tide on something that we in Oregon tend to take for granted: that construction defects that have resulted in property damage may be covered under the standard CGL policy.  Oregon courts have long employed a slightly different interpretation of … Continue Reading

“Bresee” Decision Applied by Oregon Federal Courts

We recently obtained a victory for one of our clients, a developer on the Oregon Coast, in a duty to defend fight with a very aggressive and creative opponent, Catlin Specialty Insurance Company.  Magistrate Judge Coffin’s findings and recommendations, adopted by Judge Aiken, relied on the Oregon Supreme Court’s Bresee decision to find a duty to defend … Continue Reading

Insurers Start Duking It Out Over Impact of SB 814 on Oregon Environmental Coverage Law

Ironically enough, the first attempt that I’ve heard of to take advantage of the new pro-policyholder provisions of the Oregon Environmental Cleanup Assistance Act (OECAA) was by an insurance company.  That effort, in the form of a motion to dismiss recently filed in the Multnomah County Circuit Court Lloyd’s of London v. Beneficial Insurance case, is … Continue Reading

Insurers Chalk Up a Victory for Form Over Substance in D&O Coverage

Kevin LaCroix over at the D&O Diary has a nice piece on a new decision out of the Carolinas that has us insurance geeks talking, GS2 Engineering v. Zurich.  The case puts front-and-center one of the most notorious and difficult “form over substance” claim denial practices in the liability insurance industry, where professional liability or Directors and … Continue Reading

Something That Insurers and Policyholders Can Agree On…

Is that the building where a lot of Oregon’s insurance disputes are decided, the Multnomah County Courthouse, needs to be replaced.  Hopefully the Legislature’s allocation of some new funds for planning will push the project into reality-land, although we have all had our hopes raised before.  Our state-court judges are under enough stress with low … Continue Reading

Washington Court Smacks Down Lloyd’s Effort to “Cook the Books”

Subcontractors on construction projects are commonly required to provide “additional insured” liability coverage to the general contractor.  The coverage is available to the extent that the general is liable because of the subcontractor’s negligence – which is the case most of the time.  In Oregon it is rare for a subcontractor’s carrier to actually agree … Continue Reading

Alabama Federal Trial Court Dismisses Bad Faith Claim Over Defense of PRP Letter

One of the issues that we cover closely is environmental coverage litigation, and particularly coverage issues similar to the coverage fights that are taking place about the massive Portland Harbor Superfund Site.  Our firm has been at the forefront of making good law on those coverage issues including the first decision establishing that carriers have … Continue Reading

Associated Oregon Industries Fails to Mention Opposition to HB 3160 In Legislative Recap

Perhaps there’s an entirely innocuous explanation as I’m sure that AOI opposes many bills each session, but I found it notable that AOI’s blog posting on the legislative session does not mention its opposition to HB 3160.  That bill would have provided businesses (and individuals) with a private right of action against insurance companies for … Continue Reading

Letter to Sen. Johnson Supporting SB414 – Small Business Needs Protection Beyond Environmental Claims

Here is the letter that I just sent to Senator Betsy Johnson urging her to support SB414, which has a work session scheduled for today.  In it I describe the experience of my client Anderson Brothers, Inc. with its attempt to get its insurance company to help defend it against an environmental claim, and explain that although … Continue Reading

Governor Signs SB814, amending Oregon’s unique environmental insurance coverage law

The Governor of Oregon has now signed into law far-reaching changes to ORS 465.475 et seq, the Oregon Environmental Cleanup Assistance Act.  The changes include, most notably, addition of a specific cause of action against an insurer for bad faith denial of coverage, patterned on the Washington Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA).  Although constitutional challenges … Continue Reading