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Stamford Wallpaper Co. v. TIG Ins.

Citation: 28 ELR 20584
(02/25/1998)

The court holds that under Connecticut law, an insurer has no duty to defend a wallpaper manufacturer against Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) claims that fall within the scope of the pollution exclusion clause of the manufacturer's comprehensive general liability insurance policy. The court first holds that the three CERCLA claims against the manufacturer fall within the pollution exclusion clause. The insurer demonstrated that all three CERCLA claims seek to impose liability for environmental loss caused by the discharge of waste materials into or on land. The court then rejects the manufacturer's assertions that the CERCLA claims fall outside the scope of the pollution exclusion clause because acts of disposal and treatment alleged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are not equivalent to discharge and dispersal or, in the alternative, the clause does not apply to the act of arranging for the transport, treatment, or disposal of waste materials. Both assertions are unpersuasive for the same reason: the language of the exclusion focuses on the nature of the property damage, not on the nature of the insured's conduct or activities.

The court next holds that the sudden and accidental exception is clearly inapplicable. Nothing suggests that the property damage resulted from anything other than the disposal of waste in the course of business over an extended period of time. Each CERCLA claim references the manufacturer's disposal of waste through transporters, who deposited portions of this waste in various landfills. There is nothing accidental about such an arrangement. And there is nothing to suggest that the deposit of waste at the dump site was sudden. The court then rejects the manufacturer's assertion that the sudden and accidental exception applies because the CERCLA claims do not rule out the possibility that the contamination was caused by a sudden and accidental event. Nothing within the four corners of the CERCLA claims state or support the inference that the cause of the property damage was sudden and accidental. And the pollution exclusion clause would lose all force if it could be defeated by the mere imagining of any sudden accident that is not actually foreclosed by the underlying complaint.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Leo Gold, Isadore M. Mackler
Mackler & Gold
460 Summer St., Stamford CT 06905
(203) 327-7777

Counsel for Defendant
Joel M. Fain
Morrison, Mahoney & Miller
100 Pearl St., Hartford CT 06103
(800) 293-4144

Before Oakes and Stein,* JJ.