Skip to main content

An Unprecedented Year: SCOTUS' 2020 Environmental Decisions and the Implications for Insurance

In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two notable environmental decisions, County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, and Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, each raising new questions for environmental litigators and insurers.

In Maui, the Court held that the Clean Water Act requires a permit if the addition of pollutants through groundwater is the “functional equivalent” of a direct discharge from the point source into navigable waters. In Atlantic Richfield, the Court held that landowners were allowed to seek restoration damages in state court – beyond the remediation required under the federal Superfund law -- but only if the landowners first obtained approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the additional work.

In this course, Jillian Kirn and Kaitlyn Maxwell of Greenberg Traurig LLP will be joined by David Schechter of the Beazley Group to discuss questions such as: (1) how will insurers take these decisions into account when handling claims and underwriting policies at new sites or existing cleanups; (2) what might the new bench and Administration mean for additional litigation on the same issues; (3) how could lower courts’ decisions on insurance coverage in environmental disaster and extreme weather events impact the insurance landscape; and (4) what are some practical ways that parties can take these decisions into account before binding a policy?