As a result of recent court rulings, the Rockford Park District scored several important wins over its insurance carrier in a dispute over coverage for pollution cleanup costs at the District’s Sand Park site in Loves Park.
The property was previously used as a municipal landfill by the City of Loves Park until 1972. The Park District subsequently developed the property into a sledding hill, swimming pool and golf driving range. About 30 years later, the Park District purchased an insurance policy from Travelers to protect the District from the cost of addressing any possible pollution claims for all of its properties. The insurance policy had coverage limits up to a maximum of $10 million. Several years later, the State of Illinois pursued the Park District to clean up alleged pollution at the Sand Park site, and the Park District made a claim under the policy. The carrier denied coverage and filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration that the Park District was not entitled to reimbursement under the pollution policy.
After many years of litigation, the insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the Park District’s claim for coverage based on four defenses. On February 20, 2019, the trial court issued a Court Order, ruling that none of the insurance carrier’s four defenses required a dismissal of the Park District’s claim. Of particular significance was the court’s ruling that the “Landfill Exclusion” in the policy did not bar coverage, based on the court’s decision that this exclusion did not apply to a park district facility that had last been used as a landfill decades ago.
The court’s favorable ruling will clear the way for the Park District to continue to pursue insurance coverage for the cost of remediating the Sand Park site. WilliamsMcCarthy LLP Partners Marc Gravino and Joel Huotari represented the Park District as special insurance litigation counsel in collaboration with the Guyer & Enichen law firm, the Park District’s general outside counsel.