A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that a unit in the Hanover Insurance Group must defend a nightclub in a shooting, stating that the insurance company’s appeal did not address the basis for the lower court’s decision.
After Shanika Everett was shot at the Hollywood Nights South nightclub in St. Louis. Petersburg, Florida, she sued the nightclub in the state court, according to the ruling of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in AIX Specialty Co. v. Shaneka Everett, 1207 MLK Liquors, Inc. dba Hollywood Nights South.
Its insurer, the Hanover entity AIX Specialty Insurance Co., agreed to give Hollywood a defense subject to rights, but filed a judgment in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, requesting a declaration that it had no obligation to defend Hollywood during without advertising. general liability insurance.
The CGL policy included an exemption from firearms for “firing firearms”; of persons on the insured premises. The plaintiff argued that the exclusion did not apply because it referred to the firing of “firearms”, while claiming that she was injured by “a single projectile”, the appellate court said.
“Because the exclusion used the plural form of firearms, the district court concluded that the exclusion blocked coverage only when a person was injured in an incident involving the firing of several firearms,” the ruling said.
In its appeal, AIX focused exclusively on another issue, stating that there was “a sufficient link between Hollywood’s premises and Everett’s damage to satisfy the exclusion’s claim that the damage was direct or indirect or as an incident to a shooting,” it said. in the decision. .
“The problem here is that the district court’s ruling rested on a different basis, one that AIX does not question,” the ruling said.
“Since AIX abandoned all arguments that the district court erred in interpreting the exclusion as requiring the firing of multiple firearms, it follows that the district court’s assessment that AIX was required to defend Hollywood must be upheld,” a three-judge panel judge said. was held.
A footnote to the decision states that nothing “excludes AIX from arguing” for the district court that the exclusion covers a single firearm.
Lawyers in the case have not responded to a request for comment.