Harbor Insurance Co. has asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to rule that its policy with the city does not cover legal fees or claims in 19 pending lawsuits brought by neighbors of the McColl hazardous waste dump.
An attorney for the Los Angeles-based company said Monday that he also has asked the court to void the policy entirely because city officials failed to disclose information about the pending lawsuits when the policy was issued last April.
"We don't think that the city told Harbor in any adequate way at all about these lawsuits," said Harbor's attorney, Robert A. Zeavin.
At a minimum, however, the suit filed late Friday seeks a ruling that the city's one-year general liability insurance policy does not cover the McColl lawsuits, which the company contends were filed before the policy became effective. Most of the McColl suits were filed between 1981 and 1984. The policy is in effect from March, 1985, through March, 1986.
Fullerton City Manager William Winter said Monday that it was his "understanding" that the insurance company was fully informed by city officials about the pending McColl litigation.
"I really can't offer any comment on the substance on the lawsuits except to say that the city's attorneys are handling this matter," Winter said. "We have not even been served with the suit yet."
City Atty. R. K. Fox could not be reached for comment.
More than 140 families living in three neighborhoods surrounding the 1940s dump where aviation fuel waste was depositied have claimed that government officials, developers, sales agents and other businesses associated with construction of the three tracts should have warned them of the dangers of the toxic landfill.
The residents claimed that their health has been endangered and their property values diminished.
Most of the McColl lawsuits have been joined together for a trial scheduled to begin March 10 before Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Todd. Plaintiffs from three neighborhoods have reached settlements totaling $3.09 million with about half the defendants.
Another mandatory settlement conference has been set for Thursday before Orange County Superior Court Judge Jerrold S. Oliver. The remaining defendants include the city; grading contractor C.W. Poss; sales agent Coates & Wallace Co., and the developers, the J. F. Shea Co. and the William Lyon Co.