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Vol. 6, Iss. 1
January 11, 2017

Contamination Exclusion Precludes Coverage For E.coli-Tainted Beef
Despite the fact that the policy exclusion did not define the term “contamination,” the court in Meyer Natural Foods, LLC v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., No. 15-3116 (D. Neb. Nov. 22, 2016) held that “the term ‘contamination’ is not ambiguous as it appears in the ‘contamination exclusion’ of the policy, and as it is applied to the facts alleged. Indeed, the word ‘contaminate’ means ‘to render unfit for use by the introduction of unwholesome or undesirable elements.’ Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 491 (1993). The presence of E. coli in the beef clearly rendered the food unfit for consumption, and it therefore meets the plain and ordinary meaning of the word—a conclusion that any reasonable person would reach on the facts presented.” [But the court noted that the term “contaminate,” when appearing in a pollution exclusion, can be ambiguous.”]

Can An Insured Drink Itself Into Coverage?
Close readers of CO know that I have addressed this issue in the past – can an insured, seeking coverage for an assault of some type, overcome an exclusion for intentional conduct by arguing that he or she was too intoxicated to have intended the injury inflicted? Several Pennsylvania courts over the past few years have suggested that, in the right case, it can be done. In other words, an insured can drink himself into coverage. Add Nationwide v. Zatyko, No. 16-1010 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 20, 2016) to the list of Pennsylvania decisions that have indicated that this door remains open for the right insured to stagger through.

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