WEEKLY LAW RESUME™ - Coverage: Pollution Exclusion - Asbestos

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Villa Los Alamos Homeowners Association v. State Farm General Insurance Company Court of Appeal, First District (August 25, 2011)

In MacKinnon v. Truck Insurance Exchange (WLR September 4, 2003), the California Supreme Court previously held that a standard pollution exclusion clause in a CGL policy was intended to exclude coverage for injuries resulting from events commonly regarded as environmental pollution. This case determined whether the same standard applies in a first party property insurance policy.

The Villa Los Alamos Homeowners Association hired Cal Coast Construction to scrape the acoustical "popcorn" ceilings and stairways in one of its building. The Association was aware that there was some asbestos in the ceiling, and a resident was privy to a report that the material contained less than one percent asbestos. Cal Coast performed its work, and in the process disturbed asbestos contained in the ceilings, releasing asbestos fibers into the air, the common area hallways and stairwells as well as individual units and common areas and public spaces outside the building. The Bay Area Quality Management District cited Cal Coast and removed them from the project, and ordered the Association to perform comprehensive abatement of the building. Ultimately the Association paid $650,000 to fully clean and abate the building.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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