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Boston Gas Co. v. Century Indem. Co.

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20138
Nos. No. 07-1452, (1st Cir., 06/10/2008)

The First Circuit certified to the Massachusetts Supreme Court questions concerning the allocation of liability in a dispute over the extent of insurance coverage owed for a gas company's strict liability for environmental cleanup costs at a former manufactured gas plant. At trial, the jury awarded the company over $6.1 million in past remediation expenses; the lower court also issued a declaratory judgment obligating the insurer to pay all future costs associated with the investigation and environmental cleanup of the site. Because the Massachusetts Supreme Court has not yet resolved the allocation questions at issue, certification is warranted here. But as for the future costs awarded in the lower court's declaratory judgment, the oil company cannot seek to recover future costs spent purely to remediate its own property where no threat exists of contamination outside the site. On remand, an adjustment is needed to clarify that the company's entitlement extends only to costs incurred for remediation not barred by the terms of the insurer's policies and consistent with the findings of the jury.