Damage to Building Caused by Silica Dust Excluded from Coverage Under “Pollutants” and “Faulty Workmanship” Policy Exclusions
The Third Department determined the insurer was entitled to summary judgment based upon the exclusions of coverage in the policy. The insured sought coverage of damage caused by silica dust disbursed throughout the insured’s building. The Third Department held that the “pollutants” and “faulty workmanship” exclusions in the policy precluded coverage, and the “ensuing loss exception” did not apply:
“[A]n insurer seeking to invoke a policy exclusion ‘must establish that the exclusion is stated in clear and unmistakable language, is subject to no other reasonable interpretation, and applies in the particular case'” … . To determine whether a policy provision is ambiguous, courts are guided by “the reasonable expectations of the average insured upon reading the policy” … . The meaning of any part of such a policy must be determined upon consideration of the policy as a whole … . In addition, “[a]n insurance contract should not be read so that some provisions are rendered meaningless” … . Upon applying these rules of construction, if “an insurance policy’s meaning is not clear or is subject to different reasonable interpretations,” such an ambiguity must be resolved in favor of the insured … . Because we find that both policy exclusions apply to bar coverage here, we grant defendants’ motion and dismiss the complaint.
Defendants were entitled to summary judgment based on the pollution exclusion clause. Pursuant to that exclusion in the policy, defendants will not cover loss resulting from the “[d]ischarge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of ‘pollutants.'” As defined in the policy, “‘[p]ollutants’ means any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals, waste and any unhealthy or hazardous building materials (including but not limited to asbestos and lead products or materials containing lead).” The record contains unrebutted evidence that silica dust can cause lung disease and respiratory problems, placing such dust within the policy definition of a pollutant as “unhealthy or hazardous building material,” as well as a “solid . . . irritant or contaminant” … . Broome County v The Travelers Indem Co, 2015 NY Slip Op 01697, 3rd Dept 2-26-15