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Koehl and Balart Score Significant Win in Insurance Coverage Dispute
December 28, 2005

Maritime partners, Eddie Koehl and Etienne Balart, successfully represented The Gray Insurance Company in an insurance coverage dispute before the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal. The court reversed the trial court's finding of insurance coverage under Gray's CGL policies for a $56,145,000 property damage award to the Grefer family for NORM contamination of property.  Gray's insured, ITCO, cleaned used oilfield pipe for Exxon for a number of years.  The property damage award of $56,145,000 to the Grefers resulted from a CDC Jury Verdict and Judgment against ITCO and Exxon in which Exxon was also held liable for one billion dollars in punitive damages.  The Louisiana Fourth Circuit affirmed the property damage award but reduced the punitive damage award against Exxon to $112,290,000.  Writs from that decision have been applied for in the Louisiana Supreme Court.  The Grefers filed an action in the 24th Judicial District Court seeking to collect the $56,145,000 property damage award from ITCO's liability insurers, including Gray.  Adopting the arguments advanced on behalf of Gray by Koehl and Balart, the Fifth Circuit reversed and found that both the "pollution" exclusion and the "owned, leased or occupied" exclusions in Gray's CGL policies were applicable and defeated coverage.  The court's application of the pollution exclusion, while fact specific, has far-reaching implications in the growing area of oilfield contamination litigation and insurance coverage for such activities.  The court also had no difficulty in finding that the "owned, leased or occupied"  exclusion was applicable and not against public policy.  Writs have been applied for in the Lousiana Supreme Court. Click on Grefer v. Travelers Insurance Company, --- So.2d ---, WL 3453784 (La.App. 5th Cir.), 04-1428 (La.App. 5 Cir. 12/16/05) to read the full text of the decision.