Bar Bulletin

Bar Bulletin

Environmental Investigations Performed under Consent Orders with the Government Are Not Covered as Defense Costs

September 2018 Bar Bulletin

By Meline MacCurdy, Bradley Marten and Frank Cordell

A federal court has issued a significant insurance coverage decision at odds with the years-long practice in Washington of resolving cleanup liability disputes with the government short of trial. One consequence of the ruling — intended or otherwise — is to make litigation between the government and insured parties an unwelcome but sometimes necessary option to cover environmental investigation costs that insurance companies previously more willingly paid.

In Travelers Indemnity Co. v. City of Richland,1 a judge in the Eastern District of Washington held that an insurer’s duty to defend...

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