April 24, 2017 Articles

R.T. Vanderbilt Clarifies Key Long-Tail Liability Issues of Connecticut First Impression

The decision represents a significant win for policyholders attempting to recover from their insurers costs associated with long-tail toxic tort claims

by Paul Fuener, David Osipovich, and Isaac Smith

In the recently decided R.T. Vanderbilt Co. v. Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co., 171 Conn. App. 61 (Conn. App. Ct. March 7, 2017), the Appellate Court of Connecticut resolved a number of key long-tail liability insurance coverage issues that had been issues of first impression in Connecticut, including trigger of coverage, allocation, and the non-application of the qualified pollution exclusion to underlying asbestos claims.

Although the decision may be appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, for now it represents a significant win for policyholders attempting to recover from their insurers costs associated with long-tail toxic tort claims.  

Over the past several decades, R.T. Vanderbilt has faced thousands of lawsuits alleging that the industrial talc it mined and sold contained asbestos and that this asbestos caused bodily injury. Id. at *78. Vanderbilt has consistently taken the position that its talc does not contain asbestos and is not harmful. Vanderbilt sued its primary insurers seeking to recover losses stemming from the talc litigation. Subsequently, many of Vanderbilt’s umbrella and excess insurers were brought into the case.

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