General Cas. Co. v. Hills

In General Cas. Co. v. Hills, 209 Wis. 2d 167, 561 N.W.2d 718 (1997), Donald Hills, the owner of Don's Standard, contracted with Arrowhead Refining Company to pick up waste from Don's Standard. See Hills, 209 Wis. 2d at 171. Arrowhead transported and deposited the waste at its waste oil recycling business in Minnesota. See id. The EPA later determined that Arrowhead's recycling activities had contaminated the Minnesota site. See 209 Wis. 2d at 172. Thereafter, the United States filed suit in district court against Arrowhead and fourteen additional defendants, seeking declaratory relief and recovery of response costs. Arrowhead and other defendants then filed a third-party complaint against Hills and other parties seeking recovery for response costs associated with the site. Hills' insurer, General Casualty, sought a judgment declaring that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Hills in the third-party action. See 209 Wis. 2d at 172-173. In a subsequent summary judgment motion, General Casualty argued that the third-party action sought recovery for response costs and was therefore not a suit seeking "damages." See 209 Wis. 2d at 174. The Hills court concluded that "in order to determine whether an action seeks 'damages,' we must consider the nature of the relief being sought- whether it is remedial, substitutionary relief that is intended to compensate for past wrongs, or preventive and focusing on future conduct." Id. at 180.