Insurers are required to defend a bar in a situation where a woman was first given suspicious drinks and then attacked, despite an assault being ruled out in its coverage, a federal appeals court said on Thursday, confirming a lower court decision.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta held Houston Specialty Insurance Co., Scottsdale Insurance Co. v. The Five Places in Co., Annalee Hunter Insurers must provide a defense in the case due to damage caused by the beverages given before the assault.
Five Paces Inn in Atlanta had a commercial general policy issued by the Houston-based Houston Specialty that provided general liability and liquor limits of $ 1
Umbrella Policy Issued by the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. Scottsdale Insurance Co. made the same provisions.
In 2016, the hunter, who had remained at the bar at two o'clock after being cleared of regulars, including her friends, received a drink from a bartender and a "blue shot". at least one of them rendered her defenseless and led to her abuse and rape by a bartender, according to the decision.
The insurers brought an action before the US District Court in Atlanta, requesting a declaration that they had no obligation to reimburse or defend the case. The district court prematurely dismissed the part of the insurers' complaints that concerned the liability for damages, and also dismissed its part of their complaints that concerned the obligation to defend and decided “the accusations about the underlying trial. of potential coverage, ”said the decision of the Court of Appeal.
The insurers appealed the latter decision. An unanimous three-judge appellate court unanimously upheld the lower court's decision.
"If Hunter's lawsuit against Five Paces alleges damages arising from" assault or battery (or sexual assault), then Houston and Scottsdale are correct that the lower sublimity (or exclusion of sexual assault) applies, "the decision states.
But "Hunter was injured the moment she consumed an inability to drink, regardless of any subsequent attack by a bartender in Five Paces," they said.
"After all, the Houston policy says the company is responsible for to pay "damages due to" damage "to which this insurance applies if the liability for such" damage is imposed on the insured due to the sale, service or supply of alcoholic beverages. "
Insurers" cannot escape this fact simply because Hunter had the misfortune of being attacked in the same bar that served her the incapable drink, "the panel said, confirming the lower compartment. rt determines the insurers have an obligation to defend the bar.
Lawyers in the case could not be reached for comment.