New York State Supreme Court Justice Richard Lowe awarded Travelers Cos. $262.3 million plus interest in a 17-year-old reinsurance case over asbestos coverage.

Of that award, $202.5 million is to come from Munich Re's Munich Re America Inc., and $59.8 million from the Excess Casualty Reinsurance Association (ECRA) insurance pool.

According to numerous news outlets, the case facts date to the late 1940s, when United States Fidelity & Guaranty, which Travelers now owns, first wrote a liability insurance policy for Western Asbestos Co.

By the mid-1970s asbestos was linked to cancer and other diseases. People harmed by asbestos began to sue the successor company, Western MacArthur, which in 1993 sued USF&G (which was later acquired in 1998 by St. Paul Cos., then merged with Travelers) and two other insurers seeking indemnification.

In 2002, USF&G reached a $987.4 million settlement, which resulted in Western MacArthur going into bankruptcy. USF&G then sought indemnification for some of that amount from reinsurers, including American Re-Insurance Co, as Munich Re America was then known.

According to news outlets, Munich Re America and ECRA plan to appeal the decision.

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