In Bituminous Casualty Corp. v. Iles, the Appellate Court of Illinois reversed the trial court’s judgment against the insurance company. An oil well exploded, leading to many lawsuits against Bituminous’s policyholders. Whereas their CGL policies might require Bituminous to pay up to $3 million in the aggregate, these policies would have it pay no more than $1.5 million per occurrence. Even though everyone agreed that the explosion was one occurrence only, the trial court found an ambiguity in whether the aggregate limit applied to an occurrence and ordered that the policyholders might recover up to $3 million under the policies’ General Aggregate Limit.
The Appellate Court rejected this finding, noting that the General Aggregate Limit’s wording would have the limit apply to the sum of the policyholders’ covered damages. These damages may follow from more than one occurrence. Further, as the Appellate Court pointed out, it makes no sense that Bituminous might pay up to $3 million for an occurrence if the policies’ Each Occurrence Limit expressly capped payments at $1.5 million for “any one occurrence.”
Thus the Appellate Court found the Each Occurrence Limit to apply and ordered judgment to be entered in favor of Bituminous accordingly. The opinion in Bituminous Casualty Corp. v. Iles, 2013 IL App (5th) 120485 (Ill. App. Ct. July 30, 2013) is available here.