Answering a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the affirmative, the Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that the term “suit” in standard-form CGL policies includes CERCLA enforcement proceedings by the EPA for purposes of an insurers’ duty to defend.  McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp. v. Phoenix Insurance Co., No. 14-0465 (Tex. June 26, 2015).  The insured, McGinnes Industrial Waste Corporation (“McGinnes”), sought coverage from its insurers for a CERCLA enforcement proceeding brought by the EPA in 2009 based on McGinnes’ dumping of pulp and paper mill waste sludge into disposal pits near the San Jacinto River in Pasadena, Texas in the 1960s.  McGinnes’ standard-form CGL policies from that time period each provided that the insurer “will pay on behalf of the insured all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages” and that the insurer “shall have the right and duty to defend any suit against insured seeking damages.”  Upon receipt of McGinnes’ claim, however, its insurers denied coverage on grounds that the EPA-initiated proceeding was not a “suit” within its duty to defend.  McGinnes filed suit in federal district court, and the court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the insurers, resulting in an interlocutory appeal to the Fifth Circuit and the certified question before the Texas Supreme Court:  “Whether the EPA’s PRP letters and/or unilateral administrative order, issued pursuant to CERCLA, constitute a ‘suit’ within the meaning of the CGL policies, triggering a duty to defend.”  Answering the certified question in the affirmative, the court provided three reasons.  First, the court held that CERCLA effectively redefined a “suit” on environmental cleanup claims to include proceedings conducted by the EPA because of the enforcement authority the statute bestowed on the EPA.  Second, the court noted that a majority of courts (and even the insurers in this case) agree that CERCLA-imposed cleanup costs are “damages” covered by standard-form CGL policies, and as such, those policies cannot be interpreted in a way that fails to give the insurer a corresponding right and duty to defend those proceedings.  And third, the court relied upon the fact that thirteen of the sixteen state high courts to have considered the same issue have rejected the insurers’ interpretation of “suit” and instead held that it includes EPA enforcement proceedings under CERCLA and triggers an insurer’s duty to defend.