The pollution exclusion has long been waved as a banner by insurance companies to preclude coverage for a myriad of pollution-related ills, keeping your premium and not paying claims. In Maryland, however, another chunk just got removed from that wall of impenetrability.
The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the total pollution exclusion does not bar liability coverage for an injury suit arising from workplace exposure to welding fumes. U.S. Fire Insurance Company initially denied claims filed by two of its insureds, Clendenin Brothers Inc. and Nichols Wire, Inc., for personal injury lawsuits filed by workers allegedly exposed to welding fumes, and it's a case we've been watching with interest for some time, along with the entire industry.
According to the Court, the certified question asked to it by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland was based on suits brought by plaintiffs against Clendenin and Nichols who allege that proper use of the insureds' welding products produced harmful localized fumes containing manganese, which caused bodily harm and neurological damage. The insurance company filed a declaratory relief action, seeking to avoid defending its insureds.
Now, however, USFC has to cover the claim, and repay Clendenin and Nichols for itheir costs to defend these suits.