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State v. Allstate Ins. Co.

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20054
Nos. No. S149988, (Cal., 03/09/2009)

The Supreme Court of California affirmed in part and reversed in part an appellate court decision reversing a trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of excess insurance companies in the state's action to obtain coverage for property damage liability imposed in a federal lawsuit concerning discharges in the 1960s and 70s from the Stringfellow Acid Pits, a state-run hazardous waste disposal facility. The summary judgment record showed the existence of triable issues of fact as to whether the 1969 and 1978 discharges occurred suddenly and accidentally, whether they contributed substantially to the downslope contamination of soil and groundwater for which the state was held liable in damages, and whether those damages were incapable of division according to causal event. Summary judgment for insurers based on the policies' qualified pollution exclusions was therefore improper.