A $6 million insurance policy cannot be used to indemnify the man convicted of killing Yeardley Love in her mother’s wrongful death lawsuit against him due to a clause excluding criminal activity, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in an unpublished per curiam opinion, affirmed a lower-court ruling that the “unambiguous language in the exclusions” for the homeowners’ insurance policy did not require Chartis Property Casualty Co. to indemnify George Huguely V, who was convicted of second-degree murder for the 2010 death of Love, his ex-girlfriend and fellow student at the University of Virginia.
Sharon Love filed a $30 million wrongful death lawsuit against Huguely in Virginia in 2013. The complaint for wrongful death alternatively argues Huguely’s negligent or intentional conduct caused Love’s death.
Huguely asked Chartis and State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., the companies providing homeowners’ insurance to his stepfather, a Maryland resident, to defend and indemnify him, prompting the companies to seek a declaratory judgment in U.S. District Court in Maryland. The Virginia lawsuit has been stayed pending the outcome.
U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow granted summary judgment for Chartis in March 2017 but denied it for State Farm. Chasanow ruled, and the 4th Circuit agreed, that Huguely’s conviction constituted a criminal act which was expressly not covered by the Chartis policy. State Farm’s policy, however, excluded injuries “expected or intended by the insured,” which did not necessarily include Huguely’s actions because he was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
Sharon Love appealed the Chartis ruling. The policy is worth $6 million compared to State Farm’s $300,000.
Chartis is represented by Richard J. Berwanger Jr. and Stacey A. Moffet of Eccleston & Wolf PC in Hanover. Love is represented by Paul D. Bekman and Emily C. Malarkey of Bekman, Marder & Adkins LLC in Baltimore. Attorneys for both parties did not respond to request for comment Tuesday.
The case is Chartis Property Casualty Company v. George W. Huguely V et al., 17-1467.
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