Insurer denies it is liable for asbestos defense costs

By Ann Maher | Aug 12, 2014

National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh denies it is liable for defense and settlement costs involving a Madison County asbestos suit.

In answer to a suit brought by Columbian Chemicals Co. - defendant in a 2012 asbestos claim - National Union states that all necessary parties have not been joined in a suit seeking indemnification.

"Any coverage afforded by any National Union policy with respect to the underlying claims is barred or may be reduced pursuant to any 'other insurance' clauses in the insurance contracts," states National Union in response to Columbian Chemical's April 3 suit.

National Union is represented by Jan Michaels of Michaels, Schulwolf and Salerno of Chicago, and attorneys from HeplerBroom in Edwardsville.

Columbian Chemicals claims that a policy it had with National Union was supposed to cover any bodily injuries incurred by employees. It further claims that its policy was in effect when asbestos claimant Jeffrey Gulley was employed at Columbian’s iron oxide manufacturing facility in St. Louis.

Jeffrey Gulley Sr. later filed an asbestos lawsuit against Columbian, alleging his wife, Burlis Gulley, had contracted mesothelioma from secondary exposure to asbestos. The secondary exposure occurred when Burlis Gulley’s son, Jeffrey Gulley, brought asbestos dust home on his clothing, the suit states.

Columbian Chemicals is represented by James R. Keller and Brian M. Wacker of Herzog Crebs in St. Louis.

Last month National Union filed a third party complaint for contribution against Century Indemnity Co. stating that it issued two general liability policies that may provide coverage for the Gulley suit.

"In the event the Court determines that National Union is liable for indemnity and/or defense costs relating to the Gulley suit, National Union is entitlted to contribution from Centruy for those costs for which Centrury is also liable, in whole or in part," wrote Michaels on July 3.

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder presides.

On July 11 she signed a four-page agreed protective order which keeps confidential a wide array of discovery documentation.

Columbian Chemicals is asking the court to require National Union pay the costs associated with defending the lawsuit, plus $60,000 and other relief the court deems just.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-526.

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