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Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. FAG Bearings Corp.

Citation: 33 ELR 20237
No. No. 01-3522, (8th Cir., 07/10/2003) Issue preclusion

The court holds that the doctrine of issue preclusion bars a manufacturing company from relitigating whether an insurer has a duty to defend or indemnify the company in various class actions and administrative proceedings arising from environmental contamination at one of the company's plants. The issues presented in the earlier case are identical to the issues that the company presents here, namely, the identification of the sources of release and whether those releases were "sudden and accidental." The court also rejects the company's argument that the recent discovery of a pipe cut qualifies either as a change in events or as newly discovered evidence that prohibits the application of issue preclusion. The discovery of the pipe cut is not a change in the underlying facts because all of the events giving rise to its liability, including the pipe cut, occurred before the filing of the first case. Moreover, this evidence could have been raised in the prior adjudication of the issue, but the company failed to do so. Once a plaintiff has had a chance to prove a fact, he cannot reopen the matter simply by stating that he wishes to introduce more or better evidence. The company's fairness-based arguments to the contrary apply only in cases of nonmutual estoppel.

[A prior decision in this litigation is published at 29 ELR 20040.]

Counsel for Appellee
Paul A. Williams
Shook, Hardy & Bacon
1200 Main St., Kansas City MO 64105
(816) 474-6550

Counsel for Appellant
David R. Young
Law Offices of Bryan Cave
1200 Main St., Kansas City MO 64105
(816) 474-7400/374-3200