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Aloha Petroleum sues insurer over lack of coverage against climate change lawsuits

FILE - A motorist fills up the tank on a sedan, July 22, 2022, in Saratoga, Wyo. The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline plunged 32 cents over the past two weeks to $4.54 per gallon. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey says Sunday, July 24, 2022 that the continued decline comes as crude oil costs also fall. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)
David Zalubowski/AP
FILE - A motorist fills up the tank on a sedan, July 22, 2022, in Saratoga, Wyo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

Aloha Petroleum filed a complaint against National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh in U.S. District Court this week, alleging breach of contract.

The suit claims that National Union did not defend or indemnify Aloha Petroleum against two climate change lawsuits brought on by Honolulu and Maui counties in state court.

Aloha Petroleum says it was covered by National Union on four different policies during the 1980s. One such policy said the insurer would have the right and duty to defend any suit against Aloha Petroleum on account of bodily injury or property damage.

The gasoline company and other defendants face two separate climate change lawsuits — one from the City and County of Honolulu and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply filed in First Circuit Court, and a separate lawsuit from Maui County filed in Second Circuit Court.

The climate change lawsuits allege that fossil fuel products have contributed to global warming, and companies like Aloha Petroleum did not adequately warn the public of potential damaging effects. The lawsuit covers a period from 1965 to the present.

Aloha Petroleum says it has already spent $880,000 on legal defense and expects that number to rise.

Aloha Petroleum is asking the court that National Union defend the company in the climate change lawsuits, and pay fees and damages yet to be determined.

Jason Ubay is the managing editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Send your story ideas to him at jubay@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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