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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

More Deja Vu All Over Again – Benzene Litigation and Insurance Company Arguments

Yogi Berra probably never dreamed of the number of times his line would reused. In any event, it applies well to insurance companies dancing around coverage issues for benzene litigation, as they’ve done many times in asbestos litigation. HarrisMartin’s Benzene publication provides an example (paywall) in a June 4, 2015 article.  The summary provided in the article (see below) reads as if the arguments were lifted directly from brief on asbestos coverage issues:

“Continental and National Union issued commercial general liability policies to Valspar between 1971 and 2004. In 2006, Continental began incurring costs associated with the defense of Valspar in four benzene lawsuits alleging exposure to products manufactured by the company. The lawsuits implicated policies issued by both insurers based on the alleged exposures, which occurred between 1966 and 1990.

Continental sued National Union, seeking contribution under a theory that it owed Valspar a duty to defend against the underlying benzene claims and therefore had an equitable obligation to contribute to defense costs incurred by another insurer in connection with the lawsuits.

In March 2013, the court awarded partial summary judgment to Continental, determining that National Union had a duty to defend Valspar and, as a result, a duty to contribute to defense costs incurred by Continental. However, the court’s ruling left open the question of how much National Union was required to reimburse Continental.”

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