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Colony Ins. Co. v. Victory Constr. LLC

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20040
Nos. 16-cv-00457, (D. Or., 03/09/2017) (Hernandez, J.)

A district court ruled that an insurance company owes no coverage for injuries from a carbon monoxide leak. A construction company allegedly negligently installed ventilation for a natural gas pool heater and failed to warn against the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning if the vents were not properly installed. The construction company was sued for negligence when a property owner’s home filled with carbon monoxide and caused the occupants to be sick. The construction company sought to have the insurance company defend and indemnify it as part of its liability policy; the insurance company refused as carbon monoxide protection was classified as an “irritant” or “contaminant” under its “Hazardous Materials Exclusion” in the policy. The construction company brought suit, arguing that the pollution exclusion should apply to traditional environmental pollution and that the court should consider the reasonable expectations of the policy holder. The court held that though the policy does not define “irritant” or “contaminant,” the plain meaning of the terms lead it to conclude that carbon monoxide would be either, and thus not covered under the policy. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the insurance company.