If It Looks Like An Intentional Act And Sounds Like An Intentional Act, Then It Is An Intentional Act
April 15, 2015
| Agents of America
Allstate Insurance Co. v. Tandon, 2015 WL 1395925 (D. Conn. Mar. 25, 2015), involved homeowners and personal umbrella policies issued to the policyholders, Sapna Tandon and Robert Doohan. The policies provided coverage for damages arising from an “occurrence.”
In May 2010, the policyholders were involved in an altercation with Frank and Donna Genna. The Gennas brought suit against the policyholders, in addition to twelve other defendants, for injuries allegedly sustained in the altercation. The Gennas collectively asserted ten causes of action against the policyholders including negligence, recklessness, civil assault and battery, civil conspiracy, and loss of consortium.
The court held Allstate had no duty to defend or indemnify the policyholders from the negligence and recklessness counts because they did not allege an “occurrence.” The district court stated that the allegations in the negligence and recklessness counts that the policyholders drove their boat in “hot pursuit” of the Gennas, “proceeded to direct some or all of the passengers to disembark from the boat and assault” Frank Genna, and that Frank Genna was assaulted and strangled at the direction of the policyholders, cannot be interpreted as anything other than intentional conduct, despite the negligence and recklessness labels. Notably, the district court opined that neither an intentional tort nor an intentional action satisfies the policy definition of “occurrence.”
Additionally, the district court refused to find a duty to defend based on Sapna Tandon’s affidavit. Tandon stated in an affidavit, which was supported by the police report, that the policyholders never actually interacted with or assault Frank Genna. The court noted that an insurer can be required to provide a defense if it has actual knowledge of facts establishing a reasonable probability of coverage. However, the documents did not exculpate the policyholders from the allegations in the underlying complaint and confirmed that a verbal altercation occurred between all parties on the policyholders’ boat and the Gennas and that Doohan drove the boat.
The district court also concluded that Allstate had no duty to defend or indemnify the policyholders from the civil assault and battery and civil conspiracy counts because they alleged intentional conduct. Finally, the district court held that there was no duty to defend or indemnify the loss of consortium counts because they are derivative of the injured spouse’ cause of action. Hence, in the absence of coverage for Frank Genna’s bodily injury claims, there was no coverage for Donna Genna’s loss of consortium claims.