Cases & Deals

Eaton seeks coverage for superfund liabilities

Client(s) Eaton Corporation

Jones Day represented Eaton Corporation subsidiary Cooper Industries, LLC in connection with its claim for insurance coverage for environmental liabilities arising from the Standard Chlorine Chemical Company Superfund Site. Cooper's liability arose from its status as the successor to Thomas A. Edison, Inc., which operated a battery manufacturing facility in Kearny, New Jersey in the early twentieth century. Cooper filed suit for coverage against a number of insurers of its predecessor, McGraw-Edison Company, which was the alleged successor to Thomas A. Edison, Inc.

At the close of discovery, Cooper filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a declaration that it was entitled to coverage rights under the McGraw-Edison policies by virtue of a post-loss assignment. In addition, Cooper filed motions in limine to limit the testimony of the insurer's expert on the issue of whether Thomas A. Edison, Inc. expected or intended to cause environmental harm. Following extensive briefing and argument, the trial granted Cooper's motion for summary judgment on the post-loss assignment issue, holding that the anti-assignment clauses did not bar assignment of these coverage rights because the assignments, which took place after the end of the respective policy periods, did not impact the insurers' risk. The court further granted in part Cooper's motion to exclude the testimony of the insurer's expert. Cooper reached a settlement agreement with one of the insurers shortly after argument on summary judgment. The remaining insurers settled with Cooper shortly after the start of trial, with one insurer reserving the right to contest the summary judgment ruling. On reconsideration of the summary judgment ruling, Cooper again succeeded in establishing that it was entitled to coverage rights under the McGraw-Edison policies.

Cooper Industries v. Employer Insurance of Wausau, No. HUD-L-2471-13 (N.J. Super. Ch. Div.)