RLI Corp. and American International Group Inc. entities that learned of the murder and assault of an apartment in Georgia about two years after they occurred are not required to provide coverage to the apartment complex and its management company, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday by confirming a lower court decisions.
In December 2015, Adrian Johnson visited Marcus Wilder at the East Perimeter Pointe Apartments LP apartment complex in Decatur, Georgia, managed by Boca Raton, Florida-based Ventron Management LLC, in accordance with the decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Mt. Hawley Insurance Co. v. East Perimeter Pointe Apartments et al .; Lexington Insurance Co., Ventron Management LLC.
While Mr. Johnson was alone inside Mr. Wilder's apartment, several assailants broke into the unit and brutally attacked him. After visiting Mr Johnson at the hospital, Wilder returned to the apartment, where one of the assailants ran from a bedroom cupboard and shot him in the head with a pistol. Mr. Wilder died just outside the apartment.
Two state lawsuits that accused the apartment complex and the management company of negligence in providing security were later filed, one was the wrongful death in Mr. Wilder's case and the other claiming personal injury due to Johnson's attack.
RLI Corp. unit Mt. Hawley, who had provided a commercial general liberty insurance, and the AIG unit Lexington, which had provided a commercial umbrella policy, denied coverage on the grounds that Mt. Hawley had not been notified of the incident until 23 months after it happened, while Lexington said it was not notified until 26 months later.
The insurance companies sought an explanatory judgment stating that they were not obliged to provide coverage under the terms of their policy because of the time that has elapsed.
The U.S. District Court in Atlanta ruled in favor of insurers and was upheld by a panel of three judges.
Insurers are not required to pay under applicable law in Georgia. , which governs, said the decision.
Mt. Hawley's policy had an approval and a standard policy that required insureds to immediately report an event that could lead to damages, while Lexington "rightly expected to be notified of the serious incidents," the decision said.
The Lexington policy requires notification of incidents that could lead to its involvement, it said. "We realize that there are times when a message may not be required " because an event is trivial or insignificant, the judges say.
"Murder and brutal abuse, however, are neither trivial nor insignificant," the lower court's decision confirmed that neither the insurer had an obligation to provide a defense or coverage.
Mt. Hawley's attorney Kim M. Jackson, a partner of Bovis, Kyle, Burch & Medlin LLC in Atlanta, said in a statement, "The court fully upheld Mt. Hawley's coverage argument, and thus it is pleased with the decision of the 1
A lawyer in the East Perimeter had no comment.