New York Court Addresses Impact of Allowing Insured to Default

In its recent decision in Sunnyside Dev. Co., LLC v. Chartis Specialty Ins. Co., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9392 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 26, 2012), the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York demonstrated the consequences that an insurer faces when allowing an insured to default.

Chartis insured Opsys under a pollution legal liability policy that provided first and third party liability coverage for a property that Opsys leased from Sunnyside in Fremont, California.  Opsys used the premises for research and development in the organic light emitting diode industry.  During the policy term, Opsys filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which triggered a regulatory inspection of Opsys’ facility, which in turn resulted in a Notice of Violation based on “a condition dangerous to human health, property, and the environment by abandoning hazardous materials and hazardous waste.”  As a result, Sunnyside was advised that the property could not be re-occupied until a Closure Order was issued.

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