Early on, the attorneys at Stoel Rives recognized that many policyholders were overlooking an asset they had purchased years ago precisely to cover the risk of such unknown liabilities—comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance. Stoel Rives was at the forefront of the effort to help policyholders obtain the benefits they were entitled to under these CGL policies—policies that clients may very well have forgotten about!
The Stoel Rives Environmental Insurance Claims Team is nationally recognized for its expertise in establishing the existence, terms and conditions of these early policies and securing litigation defense coverage and environmental investigation and cleanup funds for policyholders from their insurance carriers. For more than 20 years, we have advised clients regarding potential environmental liability at sites around the country and helped clients nationwide—including in California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington—in obtaining substantial cleanup funds from insurers.
We approach environmental insurance claims from the perspective of environmental attorneys—not only as insurance practitioners and litigators. This vantage point has enabled us to bring a profound understanding of the issues surrounding a complex environmental cleanup to negotiations and litigation regarding insurance coverage for both defense costs and indemnification related to that cleanup.
Our team will work closely with you to collect and review policies and secondary evidence of coverage where policies are lost or missing, to retain and instruct insurance archeologists to find available coverage, and to provide coverage analysis and options. We also work with policyholders to explore the range of options available under old policies and to obtain full insurance coverage for site investigation and cleanup costs. The range of options includes contacting insurers to demand payment of the costs of defending suits or claims brought against the policyholder by governmental agencies or third parties; negotiating with insurance companies to obtain funding for full cleanup costs; and/or orchestrating cash-out settlements resulting in carrier payment of a lump sum in exchange for a policy buy-back. If compromise is not advantageous, we will not hesitate to take your case to court, where we have an impressive track record. However, we are known in the field as attorneys who are able to work creatively with insurers to find the means to reach and to find common ground resulting in beneficial and expeditious settlements for our policyholder clients. Our thorough preparation, solution-oriented negotiating style, substantive expertise in environmental and insurance law, and litigation capability has resulted in many successful settlements with major domestic and foreign primary and excess insurers. We are successful because insurers understand that when the Stoel Rives Environmental Insurance Claims Team arrives at the table, our intent is to come to a realistic and mutually satisfactory resolution. But, if that is not possible, then we can and will do what it takes to force insurance companies to abide by the terms of the policies they sold.
Is the Glass Half-Full? Why An Insurance Company's Late Notice Defense To An Environmental Claim Should Fail, by Scott J. Kaplan (originally published in Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Summer 2003). (PDF)
The Unanswered Question of Environmental Insurance Allocation in Oregon Law, by Christopher R. Hermann, Joan P. Snyder and Paul S. Logan (originally published in Willamette Law Review, Volume 39, No. 3, Summer 2003). (PDF)
Environmental Insurance Legislation: Proposed Bill Could Aid in Cleanup of Contaminated Sites, by Christopher R. Hermann and Jeanette C. Schuster (originally published in Oregon Insider, April 15, 2003). (PDF)
Good News For Oregon Companies with California Cleanup Sites, by Christopher R. Hermann and Jeanette C. Schuster (originally published in Oregon Insider, February 15, 2003). (PDF)
Griffin Case Allows the Recovery of Pre-Tender Environmental Cleanup Costs, by Christopher R. Hermann and Paul Logan (originally published in Oregon Insider, May 15, 2002).
Insurance Coverage for Environmental Liabilities in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, by Christopher R. Hermann, Jan 22, 2001.
Is There Gold in Your File Cabinet? , by Christopher R. Hermann and Susan N. Safford, Nov. 1997.