Weekly Law Resume - Insurance Coverage - Duty to Defend - Intentional Act


State Farm General Insurance Company v. Patrick Frake, et al. Court of Appeal, Second District (July 13, 2011)

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that the nature of an insured's acts, rather than the nature of the consequences of such acts, would determine whether an event was an "accident" covered under a general liability policy. In this case, the insured argued that the unintended consequences of his intentional acts constituted an "accident" for which he was entitled to a defense under an insurance policy.

Patrick Frake and John King were friends who got together to visit Chicago and take in a baseball game. While at the game, Frake allegedly became intoxicated. At the end of the game, King attempted to strike Frake in the groin, but missed. Shortly thereafter, Frake struck King, "around" the groin area. There did not seem to be any particular problem, and the two men attended a football game the next day with some other friends. Frake left Chicago the following day. Shortly thereafter, he learned from a friend that King claimed that he had been hurt by the incident, and King wanted him to pay his $70,000 in medical bills.

King subsequently filed suit against Frake, alleging negligence, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In the complaint, he alleged that Frake had "repeatedly" engaged in "obnoxious" behavior that day, over King's objections, and that he hit King in the groin, causing him to double up in pain. He alleged that as Frake hit him, he "laughed triumphantly." Frake tendered the defense of the action to State Farm, which insured him under a renter's policy. The policy defined the term "occurrence" as an "accident . . . which results in bodily injury . . . during the policy period."

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