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Long v. Eagle, Inc.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

February 25, 2015

PEARSON LONG
v.
EAGLE, INC., ET AL

APPEAL fro CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH. NO. 2012-06132, DIVISION " C" . Honorable Sidney H. Cates, Judge.

Samuel M. Rosamond III, Adam D. deMahy, Taylor Wellons Politz & Duhe APLC, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEES/ONEBEACON AMERICA INSURANCE COMPANY AND ONEBEACON INSURANCE.

Simeon B. Reimonenq, Jr., Katherine O. Hannan, LUGENBUHL, WHEATON, PECK, RANKIN & HUBBARD, New Orleans, LA; Frank Winston, Jr., Sarah D. Gordon, STEPTOE & JOHNSON LLP, Washington, DC, COUNSEL FOR THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.

Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Paul A. Bonin, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins.

OPINION

Roland L. Belsome, Judge

Page 969

[2014-0889 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] This appeal is taken from the trial court's grant of a summary judgment in favor of OneBeacon America Insurance Company and OneBeacon Insurance Company (collectively OneBeacon) annulling a settlement agreement between Eagle, Inc. (Eagle) and United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company (USF& G). For the following reasons we reverse the trial court's judgment.

OneBeacon, as the insurer of Eagle, is a named defendant in the underlying asbestos exposure lawsuit. Pearson Long filed a petition for damages against his employers and various manufacturers of asbestos containing products alleging asbestos exposure from 1958 to 1979. During the years of alleged exposure, OneBeacon issued several primary Comprehensive General Liability (CGL) policies of insurance to Eagle. USF& G issued the primary CGL policies to Eagle from 1977 to 1980.

The coverage in the CGL policies issued by OneBeacon and USF& G to Eagle provided for defense costs.[1] OneBeacon and USF& G shared in the defense [2014-0889 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] costs of this litigation until USF& G notified OneBeacon that all funds associated with the policies issued to Eagle had been exhausted and USF& G was no longer obligated to pay costs and expenses for Eagle's defense. That assertion was based on the terms and conditions agreed upon by USF& G and Eagle in a 2003 Settlement Agreement. Subsequent to USF& G's withdrawal from participating in Eagle's defense, OneBeacon filed a third party demand against USF& G[2] seeking to have the trial court declare that USF& G was obligated to pay its share of the

Page 970

defense costs and for reimbursement of expenses expended on USF& G's behalf.

In its answer to the third party demand, USF& G offered the Settlement Agreement as a defense to the claims asserted by OneBeacon. OneBeacon responded by filing a motion for summary judgment seeking to void the effects of the Settlement Agreement and order USF& G to participate in its pro rata share of Eagle's defense costs. USF& G's opposition was in the form of a cross-motion for summary judgment requesting that the trial court find the Settlement Agreement relieves USF& G of any obligation for Eagle's past, present, or future defense costs.

After hearing oral argument and taking the matter under advisement, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of OneBeacon, granting its motion for summary judgment. According to the trial court's judgment, it concluded that pursuant to La. R.S. 22:1262 and Washington v. Savoie,[3] the Settlement Agreement violated Louisiana law. USF& G appeals that judgment.

[2014-0889 La.App. 4 Cir. 3] On appeal, this Court reviews the granting of a motion for ...


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