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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: The plaintiff-appellant, Graphic Packaging International Inc., formerly known as Riverwood International Corp. (Riverwood), owns and operates a paperboard manufacturing facility. Riverwood purchased a series of Excess Workers’ Compensation and Employers’ Liability policies (collectively, the “policies”) from Employers Insurance of Wausau (Wausau). Year later, numerous present and former employees sued Riverwood, seeking damages for injuries, including asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases, allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos while working at manufacturing facility. Riverwood settled with the employees and sent notice letters to its multiple insurers, including Wausau, advising them of the asbestos-related claims, which Riverwood identified as “bodily injury by disease” claims. Wausau denied coverage based on the 36 month exclusion provision in the policies, which provides that “bodily injury by disease” claims are excluded from coverage if not brought within 36 months after the end of the policy period. Wausau also denied coverage on the basis that Riverwood could not meet the self-insured retention (SIR) requirements in the policies. Riverwood filed a suit seeking indemnity from Wausau under the policies for the underlying asbestos claims. Wausau filed a motion for partial summary judgment, seeking enforcement of the 36 month exclusion provision. The district court, however, denied the motion and found that the policies’ language was ambiguous because an issue of fact existed regarding whether an asbestos-related disease is a “bodily injury by disease” or a “bodily injury by accident” under the policies. Wausau filed another motion for summary judgment, arguing that the employees’ claims were “bodily injury by disease” claims barred by the 36-month exclusion provision and that Riverwood could not satisfy its SIR requirements as required to trigger coverage under the policies regardless of whether the claims were treated as “bodily injury by disease” or “bodily injury by accident” claims. The district court granted Wausau’s motion and Riverwood appealed. HOLDING: Affirmed. On appeal, Riverwood argues that a genuine issue of fact remains as to whether it is entitled to coverage under the policies. Specifically, Riverwood argues that the language of the policies is ambiguous. Riverwood asserts that the language is ambiguous because the policy itself does not define the word “accident.” The court notes that the object of the policies at issue is to provide workers’ compensation and employers’ liability insurance. Under workers’ compensation law, “accident” is defined as “an unexpected or unforeseen actual, identifiable, precipitous event happening suddenly or violently, with or without human fault, and directly producing at the time objective findings of an injury which is more than simply a gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration.” The court finds that when the plain terms of the policies are viewed as a whole, it is clear that an asbestos-related disease is not a “bodily injury by accident,” and any other conclusion would render the “bodily injury by disease” provision meaningless. Thus, the court disagrees with Riverwood’s contention that an asbestos-related disease can also be construed as a “bodily injury by accident.” Additionally, the court points out that its conclusion that an asbestos-related disease does not constitute a “bodily injury by accident” under the policies is supported by Louisiana case law interpreting the exact same policy language. Therefore, the court holds that the district court properly concluded that the only reasonable interpretation of the policies is that an asbestos-related disease is not a “bodily injury by accident” but is rather a “bodily injury by disease.” Accordingly, the 36-month exclusion provision applies. With regard to the SIR issue, Riverwood argues that there is sufficient evidence to support a jury finding that it could satisfy at least one SIR under the policies. Riverwood further argues that under 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ precedent, its SIRs should be apportioned pro rata. OPINION: King, C.J.; King, C.J., Benavides and Stewart, JJ.

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