A Markel Corp. unit does not have to defend or indemnify a motorcycle club in connection with a fatal shooting that occurred at its fish fry, a federal appellate court said Monday, when it upheld a lower court decision.
Arthur Murphy Jr. became involved in “a verbal confrontation” with another unidentified participant in a Soul Brothers motorcycle club event / reunion fish fry, according to the complaint in Evanston Insurance Co. v. Tracee Portee Murphy and Cherelle Murphy; et al.
The participant must have brought a semi-automatic weapon to the event and shot Mr. Murphy, who later died. Soul Brothers’ business manager had purchased a commercial general liability policy issued by the Markel unit Evanston Insurance Co.
After Mr. Murphy̵7;s family brought an action for unlawful death, brought an action before the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, and sought a declaratory judgment which it had no obligation to defend or indemnify under its cover.
The district court ruled in favor of the insurer and was determined by an appellate body with three judges.
The policy included an assault or exclusion of battery, the verdict said. Defendant argues that Evanston cannot rely on exclusion under Arizona law in certain limited situations, including one in which the insurer created “an objective impression of coverage in the mind of a reasonable insured.”
“The $ 2 million policy limit does not indicate to a reasonable insured that assault and assault would be included where the insurance covered a major three-day event in downtown Phoenix,” the decision said.
“Nor does a website advertisement for ‘superior coverage’, by the broker through which the insured purchased the insurance, convey a message of any particular type of coverage or exclusion,” the panel said, concluding that the exclusion was applied and confirming the lower court ruling.
The lawyers in the case had no comments or did not respond to a request for comment.