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Is A Tattoo “Therapeutic or Cosmetic” for Coverage Purposes?

November 17, 2023

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That is the argument of Scottsdale Insurance Company in Scottsdale Insurance Co. v. Isabell et al, which is currently pending, awaiting a decision. Scottsdale is seeking declaratory judgement that a tattoo shop in Orlando Florida is owed no coverage for a lawsuit claiming that a patron got an infection from his tattoo because the therapeutic or cosmetic services exclusion in the shop’s commercial general liability policy bars coverage.


William Isabell sued Severe Ink in March 2023 in Florida’s Orange County Circuit Court. Isabell claims that he received a tattoo on his right wrist in January 2023 at Ninth Paradigm tattoo shop, owned by Severe Ink. After getting the tattoo, Isabell fell “gravely ill” with an infection and suffered from sepsis and pneumonia due to the infection. Isabell claims Severe Ink/Ninth Paradigm failed to maintain a safe and sterile environment and created an “unreasonably dangerous condition” to the public by failing to inspect the tattoo shop for cleanliness and ensuring its workers followed all requirements. Scottsdale Insurance company issued Severe Ink its commercial general liability policy. The policy contains an exclusion for “specified therapeutic or cosmetic services.” The exclusion states that coverage does not apply to bodily injury "arising out of the rendering of or failure to render any service, treatment, advice or instruction for the purpose of appearance or skin enhancement, hair removal or replacement, or personal grooming or therapy." The exclusion also applies to claims alleging negligent supervision, employment or training if the occurrence that causes the bodily injury or personal and advertising injury "involved the rendering of or failure to render any service, treatment, advice or instruction for the purpose of appearance or skin enhancement, hair removal or replacement, or personal grooming or therapy."


Scottsdale Insurance is arguing that the exclusion precludes coverage and is seeking a declaration that it has no duty to defend or indemnify Severe Ink in the underlying action – whether they prevail hinges on whether tattoo services are considered a service or treatment “for the purpose of appearance or skin enhancement.”   We will keep an eye on this one, currently being litigated in Florida.

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