E. George, Esq.; Gordon P. Cleary, Esq. For Plaintiff:
M. Horton, Esq.; Steven J. Boyajian, Esq.; John P. For
Defendant: Graceffa, Esq.; John H. Bruno II, Esq.
the Court is Plaintiff Textron, Inc.'s (Textron) motion
for partial summary judgment. Textron's motion is
directed at one defendant, Travelers Casualty & Surety
Company (Travelers), and limited to one issue: whether
Travelers has a duty to defend Textron against seven
asbestos-related personal injury lawsuits. The Court
exercises jurisdiction pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 9-30-1.
has been named as a defendant in a number of lawsuits
alleging injuries resulting from asbestos exposure. Jack Aff.
¶¶ 3-4; Randle Aff. ¶¶ 2-3. To date, well
over half of those lawsuits have been dismissed and a smaller
fraction of them have been settled. Jack Aff. ¶ 4. Many
of the lawsuits against Textron were brought in jurisdictions
beyond Rhode Island's borders. See Randle Aff.
¶ 3. However, seven of them were filed in Rhode Island,
in our Superior Court. Jack Aff. ¶ 5. It is on those seven
lawsuits (collectively, the R.I. Lawsuits) as to
Travelers' duty to defend that Textron focuses its motion
for partial summary judgment.
January 1, 1966 to January 1, 1987, Textron was covered by
comprehensive general liability insurance policies issued by
the Aetna Casualty & Surety Company (Aetna), policies
that Travelers has since acquired. Id. ¶ 14;
see also Exs. 8, 9. Although there were various
iterations of the insurance policies during those twenty-one
years, Textron and Travelers agree that the operative
language relating to coverage for personal injury liability
largely remained the same. See Travelers'
Opp'n to Textron's Mot. Partial Summ. J. 2
(Travelers' Mem.); Textron's Mem. of Law in Supp. of
Textron's Mot. Partial Summ. J. Against Travelers 7 n.4
(Textron's Mem.); see also Exs. 8,
insurance policies provide, in pertinent part, that
"[Travelers] will pay on behalf of the insured all sums
which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as
damages because of . . . Personal Injury . . . to which this
insurance applies, caused by an occurrence." Exs. 8, 9
§ 2.1. Section 2.2-entitled "Defense: Settlement,
Supplementary Payments"-states that "[Travelers]
shall have the right and duty to defend any suit against the
insured within the United States of America . . . seeking
damages on account of such personal injury . . . to which
this policy applies, even if any of the allegations of the
suit are groundless, false or fraudulent . . . ." Exs.
8, 9 § 2.2. However, the insurance policies provided to
the Court-Exhibits 8 and 9-differ in regard to their
respective definitions of "personal injury" and
8-a policy that Travelers asserts is representative of the
policies in effect from January 1, 1966 to January 1,
1972-defines "personal injury" as including, among
other things, "bodily injury . . . ." Ex. 8 §
4.13. An "occurrence" is defined as "an
accident, event or a continuous or repeated exposure to
conditions which results, during the policy period, in
personal injury or property damage . . . ." Id.
§ 4.12. In Section 2.3, Exhibit 8 further provides that
"[t]he policy applies only to: Personal Injury . . .
which occurs during the policy period anywhere in the
world[.]" Id. § 2.3.
other hand, Exhibit 9-a policy that Travelers asserts is
representative of the policies in effect from January 1, 1973
to January 1, 1987-defines "personal injury" in a
slightly different manner. In Exhibit 9, unlike in Exhibit 8,
the definition of "occurrence" sheds its reference
to a policy period limitation, a limitation that is included
instead within the definition of "personal injury."
Ex. 9 § 4.11 (defining an "occurrence" as
"an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure
to conditions, which results in personal injury or property
damage . . ."). A "personal injury" is defined
as a "bodily injury . . . sustained by any person which
occurs during the policy period." Id. §
facing approximately 140 asbestos-related personal injury
lawsuits, turned to Travelers-as well as to the other named
defendant insurance companies-for reimbursement of its
defense costs and indemnity from liability. Randle Aff.
¶ 3; Jack Aff. ¶ 4. According to Textron, Travelers
initially aided Textron in its defense against those
lawsuits. Jack Aff. ¶ 18. However, in 2012, Travelers
stopped reimbursing Textron for defense costs. Id.
denies that it has a duty to defend. According to Travelers,
under both versions of the insurance policies-Exhibits 8 and
9-its duty to defend is not triggered unless the alleged
asbestos-related personal injuries occurred during the policy
period. In response to Travelers' refusal to defend and
indemnify, Textron filed suit. In Count I of its complaint,
Textron "seeks a declaratory judgment that [Travelers
and the other named defendant insurers] are obligated to
defend and/or indemnify Textron . . . for past, present and
future [bodily injury lawsuits] under each of the
[p]olicies." Compl. ¶ 16. On its motion for partial
summary judgment, Textron seeks a declaration with respect to
Travelers and whether Travelers alone has a duty to defend,
leaving for another day the potential liability of the other
defendants and the ultimate issue of indemnity.