Matthew Ponzi and Thomas Orlando Receive Affirming Result in Federal Appeals Court Ruling

Partners Matthew Ponzi and Thomas Orlando received a substantial win for their client when the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, Missouri ruled their insurance company client was not responsible to cover $22 million in damage following a collapse at an underground storage facility. Thomas successfully argued the matter in the Eighth Circuit.

In 2014, a Kansas City, Missouri storage company experienced a series of collapses of the limestone and other geological strata overlying the cave, a former limestone mine repurposed as an underground storage facility.

Our client sought a declaratory judgment in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri in Kansas City, that the losses related to the dome-outs were not covered under its policy. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment on the ground that the geological features overlying the natural limestone ceiling of the cave was not part of a “building,” and therefore its failure, even if it could be characterized as “decay,” was not “building decay” as it must be in order to trigger the policy’s additional coverage for collapse.

In affirming this lower court ruling, and declaring the insurers not responsible to cover the $22 million in damages, the appellate court agreed that the collapse of layers of rock overlying the natural limestone ceiling of the facility was not caused by “building decay.”

Matthew Ponzi and Thomas Orlando advise clients on insurance matters, with a focus on property and liability coverage, from reporting of a loss, through trial, and appeal.

Read more about the cave damage coverage battle in Law360 and Business Insurance.