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Great Lakes Container Corp. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co.

Citation: 14 ELR 20282
No. No. 83-1607, 727 F.2d 30/20 ERC 1817/(1st Cir., 02/15/1984)

The court holds that because groundwater and soil contamination from appellant's chemical drum reconditioning plant happened in the ordinary course of business, there has been no "occurrence" nor "sudden and accidental" event that would obligate appellee to indemnify or defend under appellant's comprehensive general liability insurance policy. The court first holds that the insurance company's failure to have the policy approved under state law does not nullify the policy's pollution exclusion clause, which excludes all but "sudden and accidental" releases of pollution from coverage. The court then holds that the policy does not apply under the facts alleged in appellant's complaint. Since the damage to groundwater and soil is a result of appellant's ordinary business operations, there has been no "occurrence" within the meaning of the policy. Alternatively, the discharge was not sudden and accidental, so the pollution exclusion applies. The court further holds that the insurance company has no duty to defend appellant from a cleanup suit brought by the United States since there is no reasonable expectation that the policy creates such a duty.

Counsel for Appellant
Theodore Wadleigh, Jeffrey H. Karlin
Wadleigh, Starr, Peters, Dunn & Chiesa
95 Market St., Manchester NH 03101
(603) 669-4140

Counsel for Appellee
James O. Barney, Edward M. Kaplan, R. Carl Anderson
Sulloway, Hollis & Soden
P.O. Box 1256, Concord NH 03301
(603) 224-2341

Joined by Campbell and Coffin, JJ.