Nebraska insurance, lead paint, pollution exclusion

Nebraska case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: insurance, lead paint.

State Farm Fire & CaSualty Company v. Jerry Dantzler. Neb. insurance, lead paint

State Farm denied coverage in this declaratory judgment action in a case involving exposure to lead paint. The insurer denied coverage on the grounds of an exclusion for discharges of pollutants. The trial court agreed and denied coverage. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact relating to the method of exposure, and thus, whether there had been a "discharge" of any pollutant.

The Nebraska Supreme Court accepted the case for further review. The high court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the judgment in favor of State Farm.

The Supreme Court rejected the reasoning of Danbury Ins. Co. v. Novella, 45 Conn. Supp. 551, 727 A.2d 279 (1998), and held that the method of ingestion of the lead was not a genuine issue of material fact. It instead followed cases such as Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Hanson, 588 N.W.2d 777 (Minn. App. 1999) broadly interpreting such exclusions.

289 Neb. 1 ( Sept. 12, 2014)

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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