Pollution and Environmental Insurance
Mark J. Plumer
David F. Klein
Alex J. Lathrop
Environmental liabilities can potentially be a significant threat to a company’s bottom line. Pillsbury’s Insurance Recovery team, recognized by Law360 as “Group of the Year” in 2015, has negotiated and litigated environmental and other long-tail liabilities for oil companies, metals and mining companies, utilities, manufacturers, transportation companies, municipalities and many others. We have decades of insurance experience working exclusively for policyholders, having handled numerous single- and multi-site environmental remediation matters, as well as in the first climate change insurance coverage dispute.
Pillsbury’s lawyers are adept both in negotiating and litigating recoveries:
- Negotiated Recoveries: Our team developed an innovative process to recover insurance proceeds for environmental claims without initiating litigation. Through individualized, private negotiations with historical liability insurers, we provide a low-cost alternative for resolving these highly controversial claims in a business-like manner, without the burdens and risks of litigation. We secure recoveries for incurred losses as well as monetize coverage based on risks of future liability. This avoids the potential risk of insurer insolvency and future lawsuits, while bringing recoveries forward to capitalize on the time value of money. These services, often offered on an alternative fee basis, have produced billions of dollars in recoveries for our clients.
- Litigated Recoveries: We combine our strategic and tactical litigation acumen with deep industry knowledge and unmatched experience addressing environmental coverage issues. Our team brings to bear the best combination of talents and experience to litigate cases efficiently, and provide decisive procedural and tactical advantages to our clients across the United States. We keep our eyes on business objectives and leverage the best combination of formal litigation, arbitration mediation and private settlement negotiations to achieve optimal and cost-effective resolution for our clients.
The following is representative of our experience with pollution and environmental claims:
- Represented a significant oil rig stakeholder in pursuing coverage under multiple insurance programs for claims arising from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Represented CITGO Petroleum in multimillion dollar litigation to recover insurance for environmental liabilities related to one of the largest petrochemical refineries in the U.S.
- Representing one of the world’s largest mining and metallurgical companies in negotiating multibillion-dollar environmental claims against its historical liability insurers.
- Representing a major regional electric utility in negotiating resolution of legacy environmental claims against its historical liability insurers.
- Negotiated omnibus environmental coverage claims under historical general liability insurance policies for one of the world’s largest gold-mining companies.
- Represented a Canadian mining and metals company in cross-border litigation of coverage claims for environmental exposures in the U.S. allegedly resulting from operations in Canada.
- Represented multiple clients involved in brownfield redevelopment and claims for clean-up costs and liability under “cost cap” and environmental impairment liability (EIL) policies.
- Represented client in insurance coverage for response and other costs incurred in connection with release and alleged seepage from coal ash impoundments.
- Work on structuring environmental policies for developers of environmentally contaminated brownfield properties and military leases throughout the U.S., including California, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Indiana.
- Representing a developer in litigation of first bad-faith coverage claim under an environmental cost-cap policy.
- Represent Duke Energy on insurance recovery in connection with a historic manufactured gas plant pollution claim.
- Representing a hospitality industry client with claims under an environmental pollution and contamination policy.
- Represented United Airlines in complex global insurance recovery effort involving litigation and settlement of environmentally related liability at airport and non-airport sites across the country, and structuring policy buyback in Chapter 11 proceeding under §363 of the Bankruptcy Code.
- Successfully negotiating omnibus environmental insurance claims relating to more than $1 billion in environmental liabilities at sites across North America on behalf of a major U.S. oil and gas company.
- Representing most major domestic airlines and large number of airports over period of 20 years in obtaining insurance coverage for environmental remediation at over 75 airports, including major fuel spillage at LAX, groundwater contamination at SFO, pervasive contamination at MIA, fuel farm explosion and fire at DEN, remediation associated with the “Big Dig” at BOS, and fuel spills at HOU, to name a few. Litigation in these cases involved issues such as the scope and meaning of so-called absolute pollution exclusion clauses found in most current policies.
- Represented a manufacturer in connection with insurance coverage for class actions alleging asbestos bodily injury.
- Represented an industrial conglomerate in a $1.5 billion appeal to recover for asbestos liabilities under the company's CGL insurance policy.
- Represented dozens of regional electric and gas utilities in omnibus settlement negotiations, litigation, arbitration and mediation of claims for coverage of major environmental exposures.
- Represented several major oil companies in successful omnibus environmental settlement negotiations with their historical liability insurers.