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Insurance – CGL policie – pollution exclusions

Wisconsin Supreme Court

Civil

Insurance – CGL policies; pollution exclusions

A pollution exclusion clause in a CGL policy unambiguously excludes coverage for well contamination caused by the seepage of cow manure.

“The Falks and injured parties further argue that it was the nitrates, not the manure, that caused the harm. However, this argument interprets the pollution exclusion so narrowly that our adoption of it would render the exclusion almost meaningless. Nitrates of this quantity found in a well could not occur but for excess nitrates that had formed as the result of manure application. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, Basic Information, supra note 16. Under a causation analysis, the nitrates could not have seeped into the well, had the manure not been applied. No one would look at well water contaminated by nitrates and conclude that the well is anything but polluted. This argument further overlooks the fact that harmful bacteria were also found in the injured parties’ wells. When manure infiltrates a well, it renders the well impure, unclean, and contaminates the water.”

Reversed and Remanded.

2013AP691 & 2013AP776 Wilson Mut. Ins. Co. v. Falk

Gableman, J.

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