Category Legal Affairs

Shooting of wife not covered by employers liability policy (USA)

26 September 2017 Patrick Bracher, Norton Rose Fulbright
Patrick Bracher frm Norton Rose Fulbright.

Patrick Bracher frm Norton Rose Fulbright.

Florida jury found that an insurer did not have to provide an indemnity under a general commercial liability policy of a cable installation company when the sole member and employee of the business went home on his customary mid-morning bathroom break and whilst there got into a fight with his wife and shot and injured his wife and daughter (not surprisingly now his ex-wife) who sued for damages.

The owner contended that it was his custom to go to work early to get his assignments for the day and then stop by his home a couple of hours later to use the bathroom which he claimed was ‘a typical part of the workday’. During the argument with his wife he grabbed a gun and fired two shots (which he said were intended to hit the ground) and hit the mother and daughter. He claimed the injuries were accidental.

It was contended by the family seeking cover from the insurer that the man had not intentionally caused harm and was acting in the ‘scope of his employment’ when he fired the shots. The jury held that he was not conducting the firm’s business or acting as its employee when he shot the wife and daughter and that accordingly the insurer did not have to give cover.

Any other decision would stretch the concept of ‘scope of employment’ beyond any rational limit.

[The case is Southern-Owners Insurance Co, Inc. v April N. Warren]

First published by Financial Institutions Legal Snapshot.

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