By Tony Lystra, November 7, 2013, The Daily News
A jury trial that will decide whether the Port of Longview’s London-based insurance exchange will have to pay to clean up contaminated soil at two sites at the port got underway Thursday.
At stake are millions of dollars in costs to clean decades-old environmental damage at the port, enabling the port to market the sites to new industries.
For more than a year, the case has brought a small army of dark-suited attorneys to the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice and generated box after box full of documents. On Thursday, roughly a half-dozen attorneys and their assistants were in the courtroom as a multitude of laptop computers and television screens displayed aerial photos of the port and documents from as early as the 1930s.
Attorneys for the Port of Longview argue that 20 insurance companies operating under the Lloyd’s of London insurance exchange are liable for decades-old soil contamination at two sites in the port’s west industrial park.
The insurance companies’ attorneys say their clients shouldn’t be held responsible for damage that was caused decades ago.
A mistrial was declared in the case in February after it was revealed that the Lloyd’s of London attorneys had not had a chance to review a large number of documents related to the trial.
Also in February, the port’s commissioners approved a $950,000 settlement with three of the defendants — Arrowood Indemnity Co, Indemnity Marine Assurance Co. and Marine Indemnity Insurance Co. of America.
In this week’s trial, the port is seeking additional funds from other companies in the Lloyd’s exchange. The trial is expected to last two weeks.