The truck was covered by a business auto insurance policy issued by Hanover Insurance. Hanover determined that damages over $5000 came within the policy's pollution exclusion.
A declaratory judgment action over the meaning of the pollution exclusion followed. It was undisputed in that action that heating oil is a pollutant within the meaning of the pollution exclusion.
The first policy clause at issue in Izdebski v. Hanover Ins. Group, Inc., 86 Mass App. Ct. 1102, 2014 WL 2973681 (unpublished) was one that made the pollution exclusion applicable to property damage arising out of the actual discharge, release, or escape of pollutants:
a. That are, or that are contained in any property that is:
(1) Being transported or towed by, handled, or handled for movement into, onto or from, the covered 'auto.'The Massachusetts Appeals Court held that the clause excluded coverage because the spill happened as the polluting oil was being delivered by the pump from the tank to its intended destination. The plaintiffs argued that the oil had reached its final destination before it seeped into the ground, or that the oil that seeped into the ground was already in the tank before United began to fill it. The court held that those interpretations ignored the meaning of "arising out of" in the exclusion.
The second policy clause at issue was an exception. The exclusion was for damage arising out of the actual discharge, release, or escape of pollutants once they have been finally delivered. The exception applied to accidents with respect to pollutants not in a covered auto if
(1) The pollutants or any property in which the pollutants are contained are upset, overturned or damaged as a result of the maintenance or use of a covered auto; and
(2) The discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of the pollutants is caused directly by such upset, overturn or damage.The phrase "upset, overturned or damages" was not defined. The court held that a fair reading of the exception is that it applies to an accidental oil spill only if United's truck is upset, overturned or damaged. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me, as the exception plainly says that it is the pollutants "or any property in which they are contained" that must be upset, overturned, or damaged. If it was only the covered auto that could be upset, overturned or damaged, the policy would have said so. On the other hand, it does not seem that an overflow or seepage of oil comes within the definition either.