Jenner & Block

Firm Wins Significant Appeal for Olin in Ninth Circuit

Jenner & Block recently won an important appellate decision from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, for Olin Corporation.

Olin operates a chlor alkali chemical plant in Henderson, Nevada that, in December 2008, experienced an accident and a subsequent series of events that led to its complete shutdown for a few months.  The events leading to the shutdown and the shutdown itself caused a substantial economic loss to Olin and Olin turned to its insurers for coverage.  Continental Casualty Company was the plant’s boiler and machinery insurer.

Continental denied coverage and sued Olin in Missouri for declaratory judgment and failure to cooperate in the investigation into the cause of the plant outage; Olin countersued in Nevada for breach of contract and bad faith.  Olin won transfer to Nevada.  The parties settled the bad faith and failure to cooperate claims and went to trial on the contract claim.  After a two-week trial in 2013, a Jenner & Block team won a jury verdict for Olin after less than an hour of deliberations.

Continental then appealed to the Ninth Circuit, arguing that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, or, in the alternative, to a new trial.  The insurer also contended that the district court abused its discretion in excluding certain evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 407.

On March 17, 2016, a three-judge panel rejected all of Continental’s arguments and affirmed the district court’s judgment, preserving the trial victory.

Litigation Department Chair Craig C. Martin led both the trial team and the appellate team on the case.  Partners Sara Tonnies Horton and Matthew J. Thomas were also members of both teams.  Partner Michael A. Scodro was a key member of the appellate team.  Associates Jennifer T. Beach and Brienne M. Letourneau and Staff Attorney Marek H. Badyna assisted the trial team from Chicago, and Ms. Beach also assisted on appeal.