Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Assault and Battery Exclusion Upheld to Preclude Coverage in a Shooting Case

In its recent decision in the case of QBE Ins. Corp. v. Walters, (Pa. Super. Sept. 9, 2016) (Op. by Bowes, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed a trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of an insurance company in a declaratory judgment action the carrier brought to adjudicate its obligations in a suit filed by a person shot in the parking lot of the insured’s café.  

According to the Opinion, the general liability insurance policy at issue provided coverage for “bodily injury” and “property damage” but also contained an expansive assault and battery exclusion.  

After a dispute in the café lead to the patron being shot in the parking lot, the patron sued the café and the café owner for negligence, asserting that the Defendants knew that other patrons brought firearms into the café, that the surrounding area was a high crime neighborhood, and that the café was negligent in allowing the shooter to enter and exit the café while armed and by failing to protect its patrons.   The Plaintiff also alleged that the café failed to properly train and supervise its employees.  

In its Opinion, the court distinguished the case of QBE Ins. Corp. v. M&S Landis Corp., 915 A.2d 1222 (Pa. Super. 2007), by noting that the assault and battery exclusion at issue in that case was more narrow than the one at issue in this Walters case.  

Here, the assault and battery exclusion in Walters was found to be more comprehensive and expansive.  The exclusion expressly precluded from coverage allegations of negligent employment, investigation, supervision, training and retention of employees relative to assault and battery claims.

As such, the court affirmed the entry of summary judgment by the trial court below. 

Anyone wishing to read this Opinion, may click this LINK.

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