Environmental Ins. Declaratory Judgment Actions, In re, CIBA-GEIGY

CourtNew Jersey Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPOLLOCK; O'HERN; STEIN
Citation693 A.2d 844,149 N.J. 278
Decision Date12 May 1997
Docket NumberCIBA-GEIGY
Parties, 65 USLW 2751 In re ENVIRONMENTAL INSURANCE DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTIONS.CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellant and Cross-Respondent, v. LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Insurance Company of North America, Accident & Casualty Insurance Company of Winterthur, Admiral Insurance Company, Aetna Casualty & Surety Company, Agrippina Versicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft, AIU Insurance Company, Alba General Insurance Company Ltd., Allianz Versicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft, American Home Assurance Company, American Re-Insurance Company, American Star Insurance Company, Andrew Weir Insurance Company Ltd., Anglo French Insurance Company Ltd., Anglo Saxon Insurance Company Ltd., Argonaut Northwest Insurance Company, Assicurazioni Generali Di Trieste E. Venezia S.P.A., Baloise Fire Insurance Company, The Baloise Insurance Company of America, Bellefonte Insurance Company, Bercanus Insurance Company Limited, Bermuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company Ltd., Birmingham Fire Insurance Company of Pennsylvania, Bishopsgate Insurance Company Ltd., The British Commercial Insurance Company Ltd., British National Life Insurance Society Ltd., British & Overseas Insurance Company Ltd., Brittany Insurance Company Ltd., Bryanston Insurance Company Limited, California Union Insurance Company, The Central National Insurance Company of Omaha, CIA Agricola De Seguros S.A., City General Insurance Company Ltd., Citizens Casualty Company of New York, City Insurance Company, CNA Reinsurance of London Limited, Colonia Versicherung Aktiengesellschaft, Columbia Casualty Company, Compagnie Belge D'Assurances Generales Incendie Accidents et Risques Divers, Compagnie Europeenne D'Assurances Industrielles S.A., Continental Casualty Company, Dart and Kraft Insurance Company Ltd., Dart Insurance Company Limited, Delta-Lloyd Non-Life Insurance Company Ltd., The Dominion Insurance Company Ltd., The Drake Insurance Company Ltd., Economic Insurance Company Ltd., Edinburgh Assurance Company Ltd., El Paso Insurance Company Li

Page 278

149 N.J. 278
693 A.2d 844, 65 USLW 2751
In re ENVIRONMENTAL INSURANCE DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTIONS.
CIBA-GEIGY CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellant and Cross-Respondent,
v.
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Insurance Company of North
America, Accident & Casualty Insurance Company of
Winterthur, Admiral Insurance Company, Aetna Casualty &
Surety Company, Agrippina Versicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft,
AIU Insurance Company, Alba General Insurance Company Ltd.,
Allianz Versicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft, American Home
Assurance Company, American Re-Insurance Company, American
Star Insurance Company, Andrew Weir Insurance Company Ltd.,
Anglo French Insurance Company Ltd., Anglo Saxon Insurance
Company Ltd., Argonaut Northwest Insurance Company,
Assicurazioni Generali Di Trieste E. Venezia S.P.A., Baloise
Fire Insurance Company, The Baloise Insurance Company of
America, Bellefonte Insurance Company, Bercanus Insurance
Company Limited, Bermuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company
Ltd., Birmingham Fire Insurance Company of Pennsylvania,
Bishopsgate Insurance Company Ltd., The British Commercial
Insurance Company Ltd., British National Life Insurance
Society Ltd., British & Overseas Insurance Company Ltd.,
Brittany Insurance Company Ltd., Bryanston Insurance Company
Limited, California Union Insurance Company, The Central
National Insurance Company of Omaha, CIA Agricola De Seguros
S.A., City General Insurance Company Ltd., Citizens Casualty
Company of New York, City Insurance Company, CNA Reinsurance
of London Limited, Colonia Versicherung Aktiengesellschaft,
Columbia Casualty Company, Compagnie Belge D'Assurances
Generales Incendie Accidents et Risques Divers, Compagnie
Europeenne D'Assurances Industrielles S.A., Continental
Casualty Company, Dart and Kraft Insurance Company Ltd.,
Dart Insurance Company Limited, Delta-Lloyd Non-Life
Insurance Company Ltd., The Dominion Insurance Company Ltd.,
The Drake Insurance Company Ltd., Economic Insurance Company
Ltd., Edinburgh Assurance Company Ltd., El Paso Insurance
Company Limited, Employers Mutual Casualty Insurance
Company, English and American Insurance Company Ltd.,
Eurinco Allgemeine Versicherungs A.G., European General
Reinsurance Company Ltd., European General Reinsurance
Company, Ltd., of Zurich, Excess Insurance Company Ltd.,
Excess Mutual Reinsurance Company, Federal Insurance
Company, Fidelidade Insurance Company, The Fidelity and
Casualty Company of New York, Fireman's Fund Insurance
Company, First State Insurance Company, Gerling-Konzern
Allegemeine Versicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft, Gibralter
Casualty Company, Granite State Insurance Company, Great
American Insurance Company, Guildhall Insurance Company
Ltd., Haftpflichtverband Der Deutschen Industrie V.A.G.,
Harbor Insurance Company, Hawk Insurance Company Ltd.,
Helvetia Accident Swiss Insurance Company Ltd., Helvetia
General Insurance Company Ltd., Highlands Insurance Company,
Home & Overseas Insurance Company, Ltd., The Home Insurance
Company, Insco Ltd., Insurance Company of State of
Pennsylvania, Integrity Insurance Company, Interstate Fire &
Casualty Company, Lexington Insurance Company, London and
Edinburgh General Insurance Company, Ltd., London and
Edinburgh Insurance Co., Ltd.--now Mercury Insurance
Holdings Ltd., The London & Overseas Insurance Company Ltd.,
Louisville Insurance Company Ltd., Ludgate Insurance Company
Ltd., Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Company, [693 A.2d 845]
Mead Reinsurance Corporation, The Mercantile and
General Reinsurance Company Ltd., Midland Insurance Company,
Minster Insurance Company Ltd., Mutual Reinsurance Company
Ltd., National Casualty Company, National Casualty Company,
Ltd., National Casualty Company, (of Detroit), National
Casualty Company of America Ltd., National Union Fire
Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, New England Insurance
Company, New London Reinsurance Company Limited, North
Atlantic Insurance Company Limited, Orion Insurance Company
Ltd., Pacific Insurance Company, Pine Top Insurance Company,
Prudential Reinsurance Company, Puritan Insurance Company,
for itself and as successor to the Manhattan Fire and Marine
Insurance Company by change of name, River Thames Insurance
Company Ltd., Republic Insurance Company, Royal Insurance
Company of America, Royal Scottish Insurance Company Ltd.,
Safety Mutual Casualty Corporation, Scottish Lion Insurance
Company Ltd., Southern American Insurance Company, Sovereign
Marine and General Insurance Company Ltd., The Sphere
Insurance Company Ltd., St. Helen's Insurance Company Ltd.,
St. Katherine Insurance Company Ltd., St. Paul Fire and
Marine Insurance Company, Stronghold Insurance Company
Limited, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Swiss Union General
Insurance Company Ltd., Switzerland General Insurance
Company Limited, Terra Nova Insurance Company Ltd., Trent
Insurance Company Ltd., Turegum Insurance Company, Twin City
Fire Insurance Company, Underwriters at Lloyd's London,
Unigard Mutual Insurance Company, Unionamerica Insurance
Company Ltd., United Standard Insurance Company Ltd., The
Victory Insurance Company Ltd., Walbrook Insurance Company
Ltd., "Wintethur" Swiss Insurance Company, World Auxiliary
Insurance Corporation, Ltd., Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance
Company (U.K.) Limited, Yuval Insurance Company Ltd., Zurich
Insurance Company, Defendants,
and
Commercial Union Insurance Company, as successor to The
Ocean Accident & Guarantee Corporation, Ltd., American
Employers' Insurance Company, The Employers' Liability
Assurance Corporation, Ltd., Employers' Surplus Lines
Insurance Company, General Reinsurance Corporation, Allstate
Insurance Company, as successor-in-interest to Northbrook
Excess and Surplus Insurance Company, formerly Northbrook
Insurance Company, North Star Reinsurance Corporation, and
Zurich International Limited, Defendants-Respondents and
Cross-Appellants,
and
Century Indemnity Company (as successor to CCI Insurance
Company, which itself is the successor to the
Insurance Company of North America),
Defendant-Respondent.
GEI INTERNATIONAL INCORPORATED, a New Jersey corporation,
(formerly known as Andrew Denholm, Inc.), and
Andrew Denholm, Inc., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
ST. PAUL FIRE and MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, Federal
Insurance Company, Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company,
Northwestern National Insurance Company, Midland Insurance
Company, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, Fireman's Fund
Insurance Co., Inc., Ideal Mutual Insurance Co., Inc., Orb
Holding Co., John Black, Robert Dederer, Frank Vanderhoof,
Metramatic Corporation, High Speed Checkweigher Inc.,
successor in interest to Metramatic Corporation, AG fur
Prazisionsinstrumente and New Jersey Property/Liability
Guaranty Association, Defendants.
John BLACK, Robert Dederer and Frank Vanderhoof,
individually and as former corporate officers, directors and
shareholders of NGR Design and Manufacturing Co., Inc. and
Metal Detectors, Inc., Metramatic Corporation and ORB
Holding Co., Defendants and Third Party Plaintiffs,
v.
FIREMAN'S FUND INSURANCE CO., INC., St. Paul Mercury
Insurance Company, Northwestern National Insurance
Co., and New Jersey Property/Liability
Guaranty Association,
Third-Party Defendants.
Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Argued Sept. 9, 1996.
Decided May 12, 1997.

Robert Mahoney, Roseland, for plaintiffs-appellants GEI International Incorporated, etc., et al. (Friedman Siegelbaum, attorneys;

Page 285

Mr. Mahoney and James M. Andrews, of counsel, and on the brief).

Vincent R. FitzPatrick, Jr., New York City, a member of the New York bar, for plaintiff-appellant and cross-respondent Ciba-Geigy Corporation (Hayden, Perle & Silber, attorneys).

James W. Christie, III, for defendants-respondents and cross-appellants Commercial Union Insurance Company, as successor to The Ocean Accident & Guarantee Corporation, Ltd.; The Employers' Liability Assurance Corporation, Ltd.; American Employers' Insurance Company; and Employers' Surplus Lines Insurance Company (Christie, Pabarue, Mortensen and Young, Cherry Hill, attorneys).

Stefano V. Calogero, Parsippany, for defendants-respondents and cross-appellants General Reinsurance Corporation, North Star Reinsurance Corporation, Allstate Insurance Company, as successor in interest to Northbrook Excess and Surplus Insurance Company, formerly Northbrook Insurance Company and Zurich International Limited (Cuyler Burk, attorneys).

Paul R. Koepff, New York City, a member of the New York bar, for defendant-respondent Century Indemnity Company (as successor to CCI Insurance Company, which itself is the successor to the Insurance Company of North America) (Graham, Curtin & Sheridan, attorneys).

Paul E. Breene, Newark, submitted briefs on behalf of amicus curiae, New Jersey Public Risk Managers' Association (Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinsky, attorneys; Mr. Breene and Jennifer D. Marell, of counsel).

The opinion of the Court was delivered by

Page 286

POLLOCK, J.

These appeals pose the issue whether a constitutional right to a jury trial exists in an action for a declaratory judgment concerning claims against insurers for breach of contract and the recovery of future remediation costs. Resolution of the issue depends on whether such an action is more like a traditional [693 A.2d 848] common-law action for damages or one for equitable relief.

In Ciba-Geigy v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., plaintiff Ciba-Geigy Corporation ("Ciba-Geigy") sued its insurers seeking a judgment declaring that the insurers are obligated to defend and indemnify it for future costs of environmental remediation. Ciba-Geigy also seeks compensatory damages for remediation costs that it has already incurred. The Law Division granted Ciba-Geigy's motion, in which the insurers initially joined, for a jury trial.

On March 6, 1996, defendant Century Indemnity Company ("Century"), changed its position and moved for a trial by the court without a jury. Defendants Unigard Security Insurance Company and Great American Insurance Company...

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