Environmental

Casualty

Mark Clark is a Partner with Thompson Coe whose practice focuses on energy, marine and environmental casualty and related insurance coverage matters including the litigation of oilfield contractual indemnity claims.  Mr. Clark’s practice is based primarily in Houston, Texas where he resides with his family.  Mr. Clark also spent ten years in New Orleans practicing law and currently maintains an office in New Orleans.  Mr. Clark works with a team of lawyers both in Houston and New Orleans. Mr. Clark’s Environmental practice has stemmed from his work in the onshore and offshore oil and gas industry.  His work involves pollution caused by oil well blowouts, pipeline spills and vessel accidents that result in the spill of pollutants into the waters and tributaries along the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Clark’s experience spans both clean up and restoration of polluted land and water as well as the defense of claims for property damage and bodily injury caused by pollutants. In the course of his practice he has dealt with both the Louisiana Departments of Environmental Quality and Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, as well as dealing with pollution and clean up through the Texas Railroad Commission. 

Mr. Clark has represented pipeline construction companies in oil spills, the largest of which was a release of 12,000 barrels of crude from the Longhorn Pipeline.  Mr. Clark has lead clients through the emergency response, clean up, restoration and closure of polluted sites.

Mr. Clark has also defended his clients in numerous pollution related casualty claims. Those claims include bodily injury from exposure to pollutants, property damage caused by seepage from unlined earthen pits, the leakage of fuel from underground storage tanks at retail gasoline establishments, property damage claims in Louisiana legacy oilfield disputes, and defense of insureds in the Louisiana Coastal Erosion Litigation. Mr. Clark has also defended his clients in cases involving exposure to naturally occurring radioactive materials attached to drill pipe as well as exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), benzene, asbestos, silica and other toxic substances.

Mr. Clark has also defended marine interests in the release of pollutants into the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico and the ports and harbors along the Gulf Coast.  His representation has included advising of clean up procedures under the Clean Water Act as well as the defense of claims brought against his clients pursuant to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.  Such claims have involved mass sniffer claims as well as economic losses from affected business interests.

Mr. Clark was also involved in the Deep Water Horizon litigation through the defense of various claims brought by workers aboard the vessel and injuries to clean up workers claiming exposure to toxic substances. Mr. Clark also served as excess monitoring counsel for insurers..

Insurance Coverage

Mr. Clark has also represented insurance carriers in several insurance coverage related issues.  Generally his representation has involved the application of the total pollution exclusion found in domestic CGL policies.  His work has also led him to litigate pollution buyback endorsements which provide coverage for sudden and accidental pollution incidents which are discovered within thirty days and reported to the carrier within sixty days. His representation was performed both in Texas and Louisiana. 

Mr. Clark was one of the lead attorneys in Lodwick v. Chevron USA, Cause 48312 (La. App. 2nd Circuit, 2013) 126 So.3rd 544.  Lodwick was the first case in Louisiana to examine sudden and accidental pollution buyback endorsements in the context of the duty to defend.  The court distinguished the buyback endorsement from the absolute pollution exclusion, and strictly construed the endorsement to require actual sudden and accidental release of pollutants to trigger the duty to defend.  Today Lodwick is the seminal case in Louisiana with regard to the duty to defend in pollution related incidents.

Mr. Clark was also involved in the defense of an insurer in a major oil spill on the Mississippi River. In Gabarick vs. Lauren Maritime  (America), Inc. 650 F.3d 545 (5th Cir. 2011) Mr. Clark defended a major insurer in the application of the SP-23 Protection and Indemnity Form which was attached to a modified version of American Institute Hull Clauses.  The issue was whether the defenses costs eroded the $1,000,000 limit under the P&I cover.  The court ruled favorably for Mr. Clark’s client that in fact the policy was eroded by the payment of defense costs.  The matter also involved indemnity and contribution disputes related to sniffer claims and economic loss claims under OPA 90.