No Coverage For Nightclub Dancer Set on Fire by Patron

Mount Vernon Fire Ins. Corp. v. Oxnard Hospitality Ent. Inc., Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, Division Three (September 16, 2013)

An employee of the insured appealed a California trial court decision which held that Mount Vernon had no duty to cover a $10 million award. The award was granted to the employee after she was set on fire by a third party at the insured’s bar. The employee sued her employer and others for negligence after she sustained serious bodily injuries when a third-party threw a glass full of flammable liquid on her and then set her on fire. The underlying court entered a $10 million stipulated judgment in the employee’s favor against the insured. Mount Vernon sought a declaratory judgment that it had no duty to defend or indemnify the insured based on the “assault or battery” exclusion in the policy. The trial court granted Mount Vernon summary judgment based on the exclusion and this court affirmed. The court found that, although the term “battery” is defined as “physical contact with another,” it does not require body-to-body contact. The court found that the definition instead included a striking or touching as occurred in this case when the patron hit the employee with a glass of flammable liquid and set her on fire.

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