News Brief

O’Brien and Duffy Obtain Summary Judgment for Carrier Client in Excess Coverage Case

January 24, 2023

Edward O’Brien (Partner-Louisville) and Michael Duffy (Partner-Chicago) represented the firm’s carrier client in a case in which the claimant sustained catastrophic injuries following an automobile collision with an intoxicated driver. The claimant brought suit against a bar insured by our client for allegedly overserving the intoxicated driver, and the bar submitted a claim for defense and indemnity under its excess insurance policy, which was denied based on an Auto Liability Exclusion that barred coverage for "any injury or damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation, use, loading or unloading or entrustment to others of any auto." Eddie and Michael filed a declaratory judgment action in Indiana federal court seeking a determination that the policy did not cover the claim. The claimant and insured argued that the claim was covered because the predominant cause of the injuries was the alleged overserving of the bar patron, not the patron's use of an auto, and that our client’s interpretation of the policy language rendered coverage illusory. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment in favor of our client, finding that the claim was excluded under the policy and that the policy's grant of coverage was not illusory. The applicable policy limits were $1 million.

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