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The Collaborative Clearinghouse for Lawsuits and Other Claims Against ACE Group Insurance Companies

Insurers Launch ACE Group Lawsuit Over Tainted Land

January 28th, 2013- Pacific Employers Insurance Co., an ACE Group insurance carrier, has been sued by two fellow insurers that call for Pacific and other insurers to pay environmental cleanup damages at a Las Vegas dry cleaning shop, rather than paying it themselves.

Hartford Fire Insurance Con. and sister company Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. filed suit in US. District Court in Las Vegas against Pacific and four other insurers.

The legal action revolves around Al Philips The Cleaner, a dry cleaning business at 3659 South Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas that Shapiro Brothers Investment Corp. operated from 1968 to 1984. The business was dissolved in 1984, and in 2002 the property was sold by a trust that owned the land to the Clark County School District.

In 2005, the land was resold to Maryland Square LLC. By then, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection had begun soil and groundwater tests at the site and found perchloroethyene - PCE - a chemical used in the dry cleaning business.

In 2008, a class action suit was filed against property owners and business operators by nearby landowners who alleged that PCE had migrated into soil and water beneath their homes. Remediation efforts began, and in 2009 Maryland Square and other defendants were sued by the State of Nevada in an effort to recover cleanup costs.

The Hartford companies had issued general liability policies to Shapiro Brothers Investments between November 7th, 1982 and August 1st, 1984. The immediate predecessor to those policies was Pacific Employers, and the plaintiffs named the four other insurers that likewise had insured the business during that period.

The Hartford companies alleged, among other things, that neither the land nor business owners, nor Maryland Square, are due a defense from them because any property damage that occurred did not happen during  the Hartford policy period.

Hartford had provided a defense with a reservation of rights, and in its lawsuit said it is entitled to a recover of expenses from Pacific Employers and other insurers. In the event the court finds that Hartford does have an ongoing defense and indemnity duty, the plaintiff asked that it be allocated among the various insurers.

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