Justia Agriculture Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Delaware Supreme Court
This case revolves around a dispute between insurance companies Zurich American Insurance Company and American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Company (collectively, “Zurich”), and Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (“Syngenta”), a company that manufactures and sells paraquat, a chemical compound used in herbicides that has been linked to the onset of Parkinson's disease. Zurich had issued primary commercial general liability policies and umbrella policies to Syngenta covering periods from January 1, 2017 to January 1, 2020.In January 2016, before the Zurich policies took effect, Syngenta received a letter from a law firm representing numerous victims of Parkinson’s disease who alleged they had been exposed to paraquat. The letter, while threatening future litigation, did not identify any individual claimants or specify any damages. The law firm did not file any lawsuits until after the inception of the Zurich policies.Zurich denied coverage for the lawsuits, arguing that the 2016 letter constituted a “claim for damages" that fell outside the policy period. Syngenta disagreed, arguing that the letter was too unclear and amorphous to constitute a claim for damages. The Superior Court of the State of Delaware sided with Syngenta, holding that the letter did not constitute a "claim for damages" under the Zurich policies.The Supreme Court of the State of Delaware affirmed the lower court's decision. The Court held that a “claim for damages” is a demand or request for monetary relief by or on behalf of an identifiable claimant. The Court found that the letter did not constitute a claim for damages because it did not identify any claimants or demand any monetary relief. The Court also upheld the lower court's dismissal of Syngenta's bad-faith counterclaim against Zurich, finding that Zurich had reasonable grounds to deny coverage at the time of the denial. View "Zurich American Insurance Company v. Syngenta Crop Protection LLC" on Justia Law