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In the space of three months, the highest courts of New York and New Jersey took diametrically and dispositively opposed positions with respect to a critical issue in insurance coverage for long-term injury cases, such as asbestos and environmental liability.

The issue is the “unavailability rule,” an arcane issue of insurance law that will affect the allocation between policyholders and insurance companies of probably billions of dollars. Moreover, the conflicting decisions starkly demonstrate the fundamental difference in insurance philosophy between the two states.

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