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No. SCCQ-23-0000515, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, 10 a.m.

No. SCCQ-23-0000515, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, 10 a.m.

ALOHA PETROLEUM, LTD., Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA, and AMERICAN HOME ASSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants-Appellees.

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The above-captioned case was set for oral argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali‘iōlani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

The oral argument was also livestreamed for public viewing via the Judiciary’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/hawaiicourts and ʻŌlelo Community Television.

Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant ALOHA PETROLEUM, LTD.:

      Michael Heihre and Michi Momose of Cades Schutte

Attorneys for Defendants-Appellees NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA, and AMERICAN HOME ASSURANCE COMPANY:  

      Terence J. OʻToole and Kari K. Noborikawa of Starn OʻToole Marcus & Fisher  

NOTE    Order accepting the certified questions, filed 10/11/23.

COURT:    Recktenwald, C.J., McKenna, Eddins, Ginoza, and Devens, JJ.

Brief Description:

The City and County of Honolulu and the County of Maui sued Aloha Petroleum, Ltd. (Aloha) and other defendants for harms related to climate change.  Aloha sought a declaratory judgment from the United States District Court for the District of Hawai‘i that its commercial general liability insurers are obligated to defend it in the underlying climate lawsuits.  Those insurers are National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA and American Home Assurance Company, both subsidiaries of American Insurance Group (AIG). 

Aloha and the AIG defendants cross-moved for summary judgment in federal court.  The U.S. District Court Judge determined that Hawai‘i law is dispositive.  She certified two questions to this Court, which we accepted:

(1) For an insurance policy defining a covered “occurrence” in part as an “accident,” can an “accident” include recklessness?

(2) For an “occurrence” insurance policy excluding coverage of “pollution” damages, are greenhouse gases “pollutants,” i.e., “gaseous” “irritants or contaminants, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste”?

We will hear argument on these two questions.