This case is from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, and it might be my favorite coverage case ever. You know that any case involving bat guano and Sesame Street is going to be good. To read the opinion, click here.
The Hirschorns owned a vacation home that ended up becoming infested with bats. The bats, as bats are wont to do, deposited bat guano in their sleeping quarters. Despite a cleaning, the smell didn’t go away and the Hirschorns eventually demolished the house and built a new one.
They made a claim under their homeowners’ insurance policy with Auto-Owners. Auto-Owners denied the claim because it said the bats polluted the house, and therefore the claim was excluded by operation of the pollution exclusion. The trial court agreed with the insurer and dismissed the case on summary judgment, but the court of appeals reversed. The court, in a thorough and well-reasoned analysis, held that one would not normally consider bat guano to be “pollution,” even though the policy’s definition of “pollution” included the word “waste” along with smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals, liquids, and gasses. The court pointed out that excrement did not really fit in that list if you substituted that word for “waste” and cited Sesame Street for the following proposition: “One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong, Can you tell which thing is not like the others[,] By the time I finish my song.”
You gotta love that.
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