Benjamin Moore & Co. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co.
New Jersey Supreme Court
179 N.J. 87, 843 A.2d 1094 (2004)
Paint distributor Benjamin Moore & Co. (plaintiff) had five separate Comprehensive General Liability (CGL) insurance policies issued by Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Company (Lumbermens) (defendant). Benjamin Moore sought coverage under the CGL policies on two class-action lawsuits for long-tail claims against Benjamin Moore arising from lead paint exposure. Each of the insurance contracts contained a Deductible Liability Endorsement (DLE) that governed the amount of Benjamin Moore’s deductible. Essentially, the DLE stated that the deductible applied to each occurrence in each policy. The deductible amount differed among the five contracts: the amount was $250,000 in some contracts and was $500,000 in other contracts. Taken together, the policies covered an 11-year timespan. Benjamin Moore sought a declaratory judgment to allow Benjamin Moore to choose the applicable insurance contract and to allow Benjamin Moore to pay only one deductible. In the alternative, Benjamin Moore requested that the deductibles in each contract be allocated in proportion to the coverage provided in each contract. In other words, given that the combined contracts covered 11 years, Benjamin Moore should pay one-eleventh of the deductible on each contract. Both parties filed summary-judgment motions. The trial court ruled that Benjamin Moore was not entitled to allocate the deductibles among the contracts. The intermediate appellate court affirmed the trial court. Benjamin Moore appealed. Amicus curiae briefs were filed on appeal.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Long, J.)
Dissent (Albin, J.)
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