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Technicon Elecs. Corp. v. American Home Assurance Co.

ELR Citation: 20 ELR 20380
542 N.E.2d 1048/30 ERC 1306/74 N.Y.2d 66, (N.Y., 06/30/1989)

The New York Court of Appeals holds that an insurer has no duty to indemnify or defend the insured, since the pollution exclusion clause of the insured's comprehensive general liability insurance policy bars coverage for environmental cleanup costs if the discharges were not "sudden and accidental." Residents of a community in Puerto Rico, located adjacent to the insured manufacturer's plant, sued the manufacturer for personal injury damages allegedly caused by exposure to toxic chemicals the manufacturer intentionally discharged over several years. The court holds that the discharges were not accidental within the unambiguous meaning of the insurance policy and thus the exception to the pollution exclusion clause is inapplicable. The court holds that the pollution exclusion clause does not distinguish between intended or unintended consequences of intentional discharges, but rather excludes liability coverage for all intentional discharges of waste. The manufacturer deliberately dumped the wastes and the occurrence was thus not "accidental" within the meaning of the policy.

Counsel for Appellant
Jerold Oshinsky
Anderson, Baker, Kill & Olick
2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Ste. 7500, Washington DC 20006
(202) 728-3100

Paul A. Feigenbaum
Couch, White, Brenner, Howard & Feigenbaum
330 Broadway, P.O. Box 314, Albany NY 12207
(518) 434-1161

Counsel for Respondents
Thomas R. Newman, Sidney Rosen, Barry G. Saretsky, Allen L. Sheriden
Bower & Gardner
110 E. 59th St., New York NY 10022
(212) 751-2900

WACHTLER, C.J., and SIMONS, KAYE, ALEXANDER, TITONE, and HANCOCK, JJ., concur.