United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
CENTRAL CRUDE, INC.
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE CO., ET AL.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE KAY
D. CAIN, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [doc. 49] filed by
defendant Great American Assurance Company ("Great
American"). Plaintiff Central Crude, Incorporated
("Central Crude") opposes the motion and Great
American has filed a reply. Docs. 53, 54. Accordingly, the
matter is now ripe for review.
motion relates to a lawsuit filed by Central Crude in the
Fourteenth Judicial District Court, Calcasieu Parish,
Louisiana, on January 3, 2017. Doc. 1, att. 2, pp. 5-17.
There Central Crude, a Louisiana corporation engaged in the
acquisition and transport of crude oil, raised claims for
declaratory relief and breach of contract against Liberty
Mutual Insurance Company ("Liberty Mutual") as its
commercial general liability ("CGL") insurer.
Id. at pp. 5-6. The claims arise from Central
Crude's attempts to obtain reimbursement for losses it
incurred from an incident in January 2007, when crude oil was
released from a pipeline running through Central Crude's
land in Paradis, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. The
discharge, termed the "Paradis Incident" by Central
Crude, resulted in damages to Central Crude's land and to
adjacent property owned by others. See Id. at p. 7
¶ 16, Central Crude notified the Louisiana Department of
Environmental Quality ("LDEQ") of the incident, and
eventually began remediation work under a plan approved by
LDEQ in June 2009. Doc. 49, att. 4, pp. 5-7; doc. 49, art. 5,
meantime, Columbia Gas Transmission Company ("Columbia
Gas") filed suit against Central Crude in the 29th
Judicial District Court, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. Doc.
49, att. 3, pp. 4-13. There Columbia Gas sought damages
incurred to its pipeline on land adjacent to the spill site,
as well as injunctive relief to compel Central Crude's
remediation of the site. Id. Central Crude states
that it reported the release and the Columbia Gas suit to
Liberty Mutual, seeking coverage under its CGL policy. Doc.
1, att. 2, pp. 7-8, ¶¶ 17-21. Liberty Mutual
allegedly agreed to cover Central Crude's
"reasonable and necessary costs" relating to the
Paradis Incident, but subsequently refused to defend or
indemnify Central Crude in the Columbia Gas suit or to
reimburse it for any costs incurred from the Paradis
Incident. Id. at pp. 7-8, 10, ¶¶ 18, 22,
Crude then filed the above-mentioned suit in state court,
raising claims against Liberty Mutual based on the denial of
coverage and naming a placeholder defendant for its excess
insurer. Id. at pp. 5-17. Liberty Mutual removed the
case to this court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28
U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. 1. Central Crude then amended its
complaint to name Great American as the excess insurer and to
seek recovery under the terms of its policy with Great
American. Doc. 32; see doc. 1, att. 2, p. 14 ¶
72. Great American now moves for summary judgment, asserting
that coverage for the Paradis Incident is barred under the
excess policy's terms. Doc. 49; doc. 49, att. 1. Central
Crude opposes the motion. Doc. 53. Alternatively, it requests
additional time under Rule 56(d) to conduct discovery in
support of its opposition. Id.
should grant a motion for summary judgment when the movant
shows "that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The party moving for
summary judgment is initially responsible for identifying
portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a
genuine issue of material fact. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V
Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). The court must
deny the motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to
meet this burden. Id.
movant makes this showing, however, the burden then shifts to
the non-moving party to "set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986) (quotations omitted). This requires more than mere
allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleadings.
Instead, the nonmovant must submit "significant
probative evidence" in support of his claim. State
Farm Life Ins, Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th
Cir. 1990). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is
not significantly probative, summary judgment maybe
granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 (citations
may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence
in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150
(2000). The court is also required to view all evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all
reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Clift v.
Clift, 210 F.3d 268, 270 (5th Cir. 2000). Under this
standard, a genuine issue of material fact exists if a
reasonable trier of fact could render a verdict for the
nonmoving party. Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d 322,
326 (5th Cir. 2008).
American's motion turns on its assertion that coverage
for the Paradis Incident is excluded under the terms of its
policy with Central Crude. The Great American policy is an
umbrella policy, providing coverage exceeding that offered
under the CGL policy. Doc. 49, att. 8, pp. 5, 48. The policy
contains several exclusions, including one for injury arising
out of a discharge of pollutants ("Pollution
Exclusion"). Id. at 48. The Pollution Exclusion
purports to bar coverage arising out of:
(1) The actual, alleged, or threatened discharge, dispersal,
seepage, migration, release or escape of