Environmental and Toxic Torts

Houston and Harbaughs attorneys have wide-ranging experience in handling coverage disputes involving the release of hazardous substances into the ground and contamination of groundwater and navigable waters as well as mass toxic tort claims arising out of exposures to various toxic substances, and defective products. Our attorneys are well practiced in the interpretation of insurance policies, including primary, umbrella, and excess policies in this area. In particular, issues involving bodily injury, occurrence, exhaustion, trigger of coverage, notice, ultimate net loss, pollution exclusion, and earth movement exclusion have all been analyzed and litigated by the Houston Harbaugh attorneys.

  • Insurance coverage litigation and monitoring of accounting liability claims in excess of $100 million arising out of the financial failure of a nationwide discount pharmacy chain.
  • Representing an insurance carrier in an action initiated by a Fortune 500 company seeking in excess of $100 million insurance coverage for the costs of completing the environmental cleanup of 25 sites contaminated by hazardous wastes and substances.
  • Representing excess insurers in indemnity dispute arising from national class action settlement in excess of $100 million involving a national restaurant chain.
  • Representing a major regional commercial bank in a claim against a surety company under a banker's blanket bond for insurance coverage of losses sustained by the bank in connection with a check forgery scheme.
  • Representing insurance companies in coverage litigation brought by manufacturers of tobacco products seeking coverage for third-party personal injury claims allegedly arising out of use of tobacco products.
  • Representing insurers against claims for coverage arising from mass tort asbestos and silica claims and alleged bad faith.
  • Representing insurers in dispute regarding coverage for claims arising out of defective products installed in homes.
  • Representing life insurance companies in litigation involving wrongful denial of life insurance benefits.
  • Representing long-term care insurance company in litigation involving denial of benefits and alleged bad faith.
  • Representing annuity company in litigation involving sale tactics.
  • Representing an insurance carrier in an action initiated by a Fortune 500 company seeking in excess of $100 million insurance coverage for the costs of completing the environmental cleanup of 25 sites contaminated by hazardous wastes and substances.
  • Representing an excess insurer in coverage and bad faith actions involving thousands of multiple underlying claims arising out of exposures to asbestos, silica and coal dust.
  • Representing an insurer against claim for coverage brought by persons exposed to asbestos who had not yet been diagnosed with disease. Reported decision Erdely v. Hinchcliffe and Keener, Inc., et al., 875 A.2d 1078 (Pa. Super. 2005), appeal denied, 890 A.2d 1059 (Pa. 2005).
  • Representing insurance company involving coverage issues raised by multiple actions arising out of contaminated pharmaceutical products.
  • Representing insurance companies in bankruptcy court involving coverage disputes arising out of asbestos liabilities and attempts to assign policy rights to a trust under plans of reorganization.
  • Representing insurance companies which issued environmental remediation bonds in forfeiture litigation initiated by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection.
  • Representing insurance company in coverage action brought by industrial insured seeking coverage for environmental liabilities under pre-pollution exclusion policies.
  • Defense of corporate managing general agent in litigation brought by insurer alleging negligence in insurance underwriting and claims management activities.
  • Representation of insurers against claims for coverage arising from mass toxic tort claims and alleged bad faith.
  • Representation of excess insurers in indemnity dispute arising from national class action settlement in excess of $100 million involving national restaurant chain.
  • Representation of an insurance company in a coverage action involving alleged property damage and advertising injury coverage for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Reported decision Melrose Hotel Co. v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Co. 432 F. Supp. 2d 488 (E.D. Pa. 2006), aff'd, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 22711 (3d Cir. Sept. 25, 2007).
  • Representation of an insurance company in a coverage action involving an underlying copyright infringement lawsuit and a determination of whether there was "advertising injury" under four commercial general liability policies issued to the corporation by the insurer.