West Virginia Court Resolves Issues Of First Impression On Insurance Coverage For Delayed Manifestation Claims

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I. Introduction -

The last few decades of tort litigation in America have been marked primarily by a surge in filings of asbestos, silica and other delayed manifestation bodily injury and property damage claims. These tort claims have in turn led to numerous disputes between tort defendants and their liability insurers over the financial responsibility for such claims. These fights over insurance rights typically involve questions of state law and hence litigants commonly need to examine the specific state law controlling their insurance policies to determine whether and to what extent insurance coverage exists.

Notwithstanding their prominence in asbestos and other litigation involving delayed manifestation claims, West Virginia courts have issued surprisingly few decisions that address the insurance issues that frequently arise in this context. As a result, the recent decision by Judge Andrew N. Frye, Jr. of the Circuit Court of Morgan County, West Virginia in U.S. Silica Co. v. Ace Fire Underwriters Ins. Co. (‘‘U.S. Silica’’) is significant because it resolves matters of first impression under West Virginia law.

Originally published in Mealey’s Litigation Report: Insurance on July 24, 2013.

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