California Appellate Court Holds That Insurer Is Not Required to Show Proof of Prejudice to Deny Coverage Based On Failure to Comply With Notice Condition

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In Venoco, Inc. v. Gulf Underwriters Ins. Co., 2009 WL 1875640 (July 1, 2009), the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed a summary judgment entered in favor of Gulf Underwriters Insurance Company (“Gulf”) with regard to Venoco’s suit brought against Gulf for indemnification and a defense for lawsuits filed against it by former students and employees of Beverly Hills High School for personal injuries allegedly arising out of exposure to toxic pollution from Venoco’s oil and gas operations performed adjacent to the high school campus.

Gulf asserted that Venoco’s claim for a defense under the policy was not covered by virtue of an exclusion for instances of toxic pollution. However, an exception to the exclusion, a “buy-back” provision, provided that if Venoco notified Gulf of an occurrence within sixty (60) days of such occurrence, the toxic pollution exclusion would not apply so as to preclude coverage.

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