Wisconsin Supreme Court rules manure is pollutant under insurance policy

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MILWAUKEE — The state Supreme Court says manure qualifies as a pollutant as defined in an insurance policy.

The case began in 2011 when state environmental officials notified West Bend dairy farmer Robert Falk that manure spread on his fields had contaminated his neighbors' wells.

The neighbors demanded compensation. Falk turned to his insurance company, Wilson Mutual, but his policy excluded coverage for damage caused by pollutants. A state appeals court last found the exclusion was valid.

But the high court reversed that decision Tuesday. The court ruled 5-1 that manure is clearly a pollutant when it seeps into a well. However, the court found that a property damage clause in the Falks' policy requires Wilson Mutual to pay up to $500 for each well.

Wilson Mutual's attorney didn't immediately return messages.

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