Texas Court Finds Asbestosis Exclusion Applies Only to Asbestosis

Texas Court Finds Asbestosis Exclusion Applies Only to Asbestosis

Nueces County, TX Policyholders facing liability because of asbestos claims will benefit from a March 11 Texas state court ruling. The "asbestosis" exclusion bars coverage only for asbestosis claims and does not bar coverage for claims involving mesothelioma, lung cancer, pleural plaques or any other asbestos-related disease.

The ruling came in a case brought by ASARCO LLC on the scope of an asbestosis exclusion sold by Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. ASARCO LLC, et al. v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co., et al., No. 01-2680-D (105th Jud. Dist. Ct. Nueces County Tex. Mar. 11, 2009). On motion for partial summary judgment, ASARCO sought a ruling that the exclusion applied only to claims arising from the specific disease known as asbestosis. In opposition, Fireman's Fund argued that the exclusion barred coverage for all asbestos-related diseases.

In siding with ASARCO, the court’s decision deals a severe blow to Fireman's Fund and impacts other insurance companies with such exclusions. It is a major victory for policyholders seeking insurance coverage for asbestos liabilities. It also benefits all policyholders seeking to enforce the plain meaning of the language in an insurance policy language and a narrow construction of any exclusionary language.

Counsel for ASARCO find this ruling especially pleasing because we believe it essentially calls a spade a spade. The ruling simplifies the case considerably and eliminates an unnecessary factual issue.

ASARCO, a copper company based in Tucson, Arizona, declared bankruptcy in 2005. At issue in the coverage action is a determination of insurance coverage for past, present and future asbestos liabilities.

Judge J. Manuel Bañales of the 105th Judicial District Court of Nueces County, Texas, issued the Order granting partial summary judgment to ASARCO. Jorge C. Rangel of The Rangel Law Firm in Corpus Christi, Texas is ASARCO's local counsel in the case.

To download a copy of the court’s Order, simply click on the link above to login to your insurance center account. If you don’t have an account set up yet, click on the ‘create an account’ link and follow the prompts. Please contact me at rorin@andersonkill.com if you have any questions.