Mackall, Crounse & Moore, PLC has joined Dewitt Ross & Stevens S.C.

The newly formed DeWitt Mackall Crounse & Moore S.C. will provide clients with enhanced legal services
and efficiencies as well as access to more than 100 attorneys practicing in nearly 30 areas of
law in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

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How Absolute is the “Absolute Pollution Exclusion?”

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Most comprehensive general liability insurance policies include an “absolute” (or “total”) pollution exclusion.  Courts across the country have struggled with the issue of just how “absolute” that exclusion really is.  The Nevada Supreme Court is the latest court to grapple with the issue in a May 29, 2014 decision.  Century Surety Co. v. Casino West, Inc., 2014 WL 2396085 (Nev. 2014).  In that case, four people died from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in a room above a pool heater in the Casino West Motel.  Casino West sought coverage from its liability insurer, Century Surety Company, for the death claims but Century denied coverage based upon the absolute pollution exclusion in its policy.  That exclusion bars coverage for bodily injury or property damage “arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, disbursal, seepage, migration, release or escape of ‘pollutants’.”  The policy defined a “pollutant” as “any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals, and waste.”  The Nevada Supreme Court observed that “it is reasonable to categorize carbon monoxide as a pollutant because it is a gaseous element that contaminates the air, making it dangerous and sometimes deadly to breath.”  However, Casino West argued that the exclusion only applies to “traditional environmental pollution,” and the Court also found that interpretation to be reasonable.  The pollution exclusion was thus ambiguous and the Court construed it in favor of coverage.  The Court held that Casino West had coverage notwithstanding the absolute pollution exclusion.

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Wisconsin Courts Define Policy Holder Rights in Long Tail Insurance Claims

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Over the last several years, Wisconsin appellate courts have been defining the rights of policyholders in “long tail” insurance coverage cases involving multiple policies.  “Long tail” claims occur when damage takes place gradually over a period of years before it is discovered.  Such claims often arise from environmental contamination or human exposure to asbestos.  Disputes over insurance coverage for such claims are complicated by the fact that policies from multiple years may be implicated (triggered) and, also, the claims are often large enough to involve multiple layers of coverage, including primary (first layer) coverage as well as umbrella and/or excess insurance policies.

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Court Rules Wisconsin DNR Must Consider Downstream Impacts in Setting Discharge Limits

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On September 19, 2013, Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington issued a decision ordering that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) must consider water quality impacts downstream of a point source discharge when issuing a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“WPDES”) permit.  The decision has significant potential impacts for parties with point source discharges into a river that are upstream of a lake or reservoir.

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One of the best features about our website articles and blog entries is that they are timely—you get up-to-date information on the law as it exists at the time. The downside is that the law changes, but our older entries don't. That means we can't guarantee you are getting the most current law when reading through past entries.

Please don't take these articles and blog entries and rely on them as legal advice. Give us a call instead, for specific and pointed advice for your particular situation. Note that contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship, unless you are accepted as a client of the firm.

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DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C., including its affiliate DeWitt Mackall Crounse & Moore S.C., is one of the ten largest law firms based in Wisconsin, with an additional presence in Minnesota. It has nearly140 attorneys practicing in Madison, Metropolitan Milwaukee and Minneapolis in over 30 legal practice areas, and has the experience to service clients of all scopes and sizes.

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Best Lawyers 2013 – 2018
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