In May 2019, Tonkon Torp celebrated a complete appellate victory for its client, Con-way, with a decisive win in the Oregon Court of Appeals. The appeal affirmed a 2014 judgment that settled the question of who bore responsibility for a portion of defense and indemnity costs associated with three Superfund sites, including the Portland Harbor, and more than 1,500 asbestos lawsuits.
In 2014, Con-way, a multinational freight transportation company with roots in Portland, and several insurance companies that it was contractually obligated to defend and indemnify, prevailed following a six-week trial after the jury concluded that certain policies issued to Freightliner and backed by Con-way were part of a self-insurance program, and were not intended to provide traditional insurance coverage. Con-way’s trial team was led by Tonkon Torp Litigation partners Frank Weiss and Anna Sortun. Details of the trial victory are available here.
The lead plaintiff in the case, insurer Allianz, appealed the judgment arguing that the trial court erred by putting the question of the parties' intent to the jury. Tonkon Torp’s appellate lawyers prepared Con-way’s response in a well-organized and thorough brief that defended the trial court's instructions, and also asserted a cross-assignment of error. Frank Weiss argued the appeal in September of 2017.
The Court of Appeals, without ever reaching the substance of Allianz's appeal, issued an opinion affirming the judgment on the grounds that the trial court should have directed a verdict in Con-way's favor.
The appellate win, undoubtedly significant for Con-way, is also favorable for every other insurer in the case.