Travelers Casualty & Surety Co. v. Providence WA Ins. Co., Inc., No. 11-2193 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The EPA initiated efforts to remediate contamination at the Rhode Island Centredale Manor Superfund Site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9601-9675 and issued a unilateral administrative order to compel entities, including NE Container and Emhart to remove hazardous substances that had been disposed of at the Site as part of the former operations of several companies. Emhart sued NE Container and its insurers, which had provided general commercial liability policies to NE Container during different time periods from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. Travelers agreed to contribute to NE Container's defense pursuant to a reservation of rights, while PWIC took the position that it had no duty to defend. Travelers has incurred significant defense costs and filed this suit, seeking contribution from PWIC. The district court ruled that PWIC was not contractually obligated to defend NE Container in the Emhart action, observing that the alleged property damage occurred before the commencement of the PWIC policy period between 1982 and 1985. The First Circuit vacated. The district court mistakenly focused solely on the timing of the insured's alleged polluting activities, rather than also considering the potential timing of property damage caused by those activities.