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Lindsay Manufacturing Co. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co.

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 21535
Nos. 96-1282, -1440, 118 F.3d 1263/(8th Cir., 07/08/1997)

The court holds that, pursuant to Nebraska law, the "as damages" language in a comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance policy issued to a manufacturing company that disposed of spent pickle liquor into an open, unlined waste pit includes environmental response costs. The court determines that the Nebraska Supreme Court would interpret the term "as damages" within a CGL policy consistent with an ordinary lay person's understanding, rather than with a technical insurance context definition. Based on the demonstrated preference by the Nebraska Supreme Court for lay understandings rather than technical definitions, the court concludes that, although the insurance and legal community may have a particular meaning for the term "as damages," Nebraska law does not allow that a second step be taken beyond the ordinary and common meaning. The court holds the term "as damages" to include both legal damages and equitable relief because that interpretation favors the insured. Therefore, in the absence of authoritative interpretation of Nebraska law, the "as damages" language in a CGL policy covers environmental response costs.

Counsel for Appellant
William J. Brennan Jr.
Fitzgerald, Schorr, Barmettler & Brennan
1000 Woodmen Tower, Omaha NE 68102
(402) 342-1000

Counsel for Appellee
Lyman L. Larsen
Kennedy, Holland, DeLacy & Svoboda
Kennedy, Holland Bldg.
10306 Regency Parkway Dr., Omaha NE 68114
(402) 397-0203

Before McMillian and Gibson, JJ.