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Kent Farms, Inc. v. Zurich Ins. Co.

Citation: 30 ELR 20566
No. No. 67635-6, 998 P.2d 292/(Wash., 04/27/2000)

The court holds that a pollution exclusion clause does not apply to a claim based on a negligence tort. A fuel delivery man brought a negligence claim against a farm after the farm's faulty underground storage tank intake valve caused the delivery man to suffer significant injuries. The court holds that the pollution exclusion clause in the insurer's policy does not apply to a claim based on personal injury arising from negligence on the part of the insured. The underlying injury and cause of action are rooted in negligence, not environmental harm caused by pollution. Further, the exclusion clause does not deal with the discharge of substances that may also be pollutants directly onto an individual, rather the clause specifically addresses those situations in which injury was caused by environmental damage. The delivery man was not polluted by the diesel fuel; it engulfed and choked him. Moreover, the fuel was not acting as a pollutant when it struck him. To adopt the insurer's argument that the exclusion clause applies because diesel fuel is a pollutant would unjustly broaden the application of the exclusion far beyond its intended purpose.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (5 pp., ELR Order No. L-221).

Counsel for Petitioners
Jacquelyn A. Beatty
Karr, Tuttle & Campbell
1201 Third Ave., Ste. 2900, Seattle WA 98101
(206) 223-1313

Counsel for Respondents
Brian H. Miller
Dano, Miller & Ries
705 E. Hemlock, Othello WA 99344
(509) 488-2601