The County of Columbia in New York established a solid waste disposal plant in the town of Claverack in 1981. To protect itself, the County procured comprehensive and general liability insurance policy. The insurers claimed in its advertising that it would pay all sums which the insured shall be legally obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury or property damage. Every insurance policy excluded from coverage those bodily injuries and property damage sustained from pollution or arising from the discharge, dispersal, release or escape of waste materials, contaminants and pollutants on land, atmosphere and water unless the discharge was sudden and accidental.
In 1986, the solid waste disposal system was charged with violations of the Environmental Conservation Law for it was found that liquid waste was leaching onto the soil and seeping into the groundwater which was the source of drinking water for the town of Claverack. A fine was assessed against the Town of Claverack but the payment of the fine was suspended on condition that the Town close down the solid waste disposal facility. It was closed in December 1988.
A New York Injury Lawyer said however, the County however, continued using the facility despite the order of the Town to close the solid waste disposal plant. The Town of Claverack sued the County. A hunting club that owned the land next to the solid waste disposal plant also sued the County in January 1989 for impairment of the soil, air, ground and surface water. The hunting club also alleged that the County’s continued use of the facilities was a continuing nuisance, a continuing trespass and that its activities in using the plant has caused the eviction of the hunting club from its premises.