When it comes to finding the best insurance services, most people are focused on finding the lowest premiums and reasonable deductibles. As a result, they will likely spend most of their time looking at free insurance quotes for homeowner insurance rates, car insurance rates and more. However, while affordable insurance is an understandable priority, it is just as important to make sure your coverage provides sufficient protection. A club owner in Arkansas recently learned this lesson after an appeals court ruled his commercial property insurance company had no obligation to defend him in an ongoing civil suit.
Anthony George of Bentonville, AK is the former owner of the Heart and Soul LLC, which operated the PNC Club. Like many clubs, the company regularly rented out their location for events. However, at an event on February 5, 2012, a gunman fired into the crowd, injuring several people. Two of the wounded, Ricotta Lambert and Neca Scarber, later filed suit against George, his LLC, and several unnamed parties, claiming that George and the Heart and Soul LLC were negligent in protecting them. They are currently seeking compensation and punitive damages in an ongoing legal case.
At the time of the shooting, the club, which has since been closed, was insured by Great Lakes Reinsurance PLC. After the commercial property insurance company denied George liability coverage, he sued Great Lakes, claiming that their policy statements excluding coverage for assault or battery were ambiguous. At the time, Benton County Circuit Court Judge Xollie Duncan ruled against him, stating that the company’s policy made it clear that there was no possibility of coverage for his situation.
George appealed this decision. However, in a decision issued on Wednesday, January 28, the Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld Duncan’s decision. In his opinion, Judge Brandon J. Harrison wrote that although Great Lakes had agreed to pay damages for bodily injuries caused by an “occurrence”, defined as an accident or repeated exposure to a harmful condition, they had specifically stated that the coverage did not apply to assault or battery, among other problems.
George’s argument during appeal was based around the idea that this exclusion was not part of the contract because it had not been listed on the first page of the policy. However, Harrison pointed out that it is listed elsewhere in the document, and George had initialed and dated every page. Find out more here.