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Insurance Company Loses In School Food Fight

September 9, 2008

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In Medrano v. State Farm Fire & Casualty, the court issued a judgment declaring that the defendant insurance company had an obligation to defend and indemnify its insured, the Filers, under their homeowners policy, in the underlying personal injury action entitled Medrano v. Filer. The underlying action stemmed from a food fight that occurred in an Ozone Park middle school when student Robert Filer threw a garbage can into the air and struck teacher's aide Elsa Medrano, injuring her. State Farm had disclaimed coverage since the incident did not qualify as an "occurrence" as defined in the policy. Also, there was an exclusion for bodily injury that either was expected or intended by the insured or was the result of willful and malicious acts of the insured. State Farm appealed this order and judgment.
In affirming the lower court's decision, the Appellate Division, Second Department, found that neither the policy definition of "occurrence" which was simply "an accident which results in bodily injury" nor the aforementioned exclusion for bodily injury caused this incident to fall outside of coverage or within any valid policy exclusion. Additionally, the fact that the claims asserted against the Filers were grounded in negligence implied an unintentional or unexpected event which gives rise to a covered claim as against the Filers. This finding was further supported by the deposition testimony of Robert Filer that demonstrated his actions were not meant to cause injury to Ms. Medrano.
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