Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

U.S. District Court For Nevada Enforces Criminal And Intentional Acts Exclusion In Homeowner’s Policy

Nevada Enforces Criminal And Intentional Acts Exclusion In Homeowner's PolicyMr. Nolte might not have anticipated the consequences of his action.  He  probably didn’t intend to send Ms. Mucinski to the hospital   But that is exactly where she ended up when he hit or pushed her causing her to fall and strike her head.  She was rendered unconscious and suffered a hematoma, a fractured eye socket and a head contusion.  Ultimately, Nolte plead guilty to “battery with substantial bodily injury.”

Ms. Mucinski filed a civil suit seeking damages in state court.  Mr. Nolte’s homeowner’s insurance carrier, Allstate, followed up with a declaratory relief action in federal court.  Allstate v. Nolte et al, No. 2:11-cv-00865-KJD-PAL.  In its Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Allstate asserted that it did not have a duty to defend Nolte in the state court action or indemnify him because of policy exclusions.

The policy language stated:

We do not cover bodily injury or property damage intended by, or which may reasonably be expected to result from the intentional or criminal acts or omissions of, any insured person. This exclusion applies even if (a) such insured person lacks the mental capacity to govern his or her conduct; (b) such bodily injury or property damage is of a different kind or degree than intended or reasonably expected; (c) such bodily injury or property damage is sustained by a different person than intended or reasonably expected.

In its Order granting Allstate’s Motion for Summary Judgment, the court found that Nolte’s guilty plea rendered his acts indisputably criminal.  See, Allstate v. Nolte, No. 2:11-cv-00865-KJD-PAL slip op. at 6 (D. Nev. filed July 9, 2012)  In addition, the court determined that in spite of the fact that Ms. Mucinski had alleged negligence, there was no fact that could be brought forward that would allow this situation to be considered an “occurrence” or the injuries to have arisen based on a claim of “accident”.  Thus the court granted Summary Judgment in favor of Allstate and found that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Mr. Nolte in the state court action.

If you have coverage questions about homeowner’s insurance or intentional acts exclusions, please contact Mills & Associates and we’ll do our best to find you an answer.