In a recent Client Alert, Hunton & Williams insurance attorneys Lorelie Masters, Michael Levine, and Geoffrey Fehling discuss the importance of reviewing historical liability insurance policies and the potential benefit these policies can have on minimizing exposure to environmental hazards. In Cooper Industries, LLC v. Employers Insurance of Wausau, et al., No. L-9284-11 (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. Oct. 16, 2017), a New Jersey trial court held that an electrical products manufacturer was entitled to coverage rights under commercial general liability policies issued to a predecessor company for environmental remediation costs stemming from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup of a 17-mile stretch of the Passaic River in New Jersey.
As explained in the linked Client Alert, the Cooper decision underscores the need to both (1) preserve insurance assets when structuring mergers, acquisitions, and other transactions to minimize the risk of successor liability exposure, and (2) carefully consider whether a claim may also trigger historical insurance policies that may provide broader coverage than that available under more recent policies.