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Pa. Court Holds That Individuals Cannot "Drink Themselves" Into Coverage.

December 23, 2009

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The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Pennsylvania held that an individual's inebriated state did not render his attempted shooting of a woman accidental, and therefore did not trigger coverage under either his homeowner's policy or his personal umbrella liability policy.
On March 25, 2005, Dr. Thomas Mehlman spent the afternoon drinking excessive amounts of alcohol at a restaurant. Afterwards, he was involved in a confrontation with Maria Iacono. In a drunken rage, he shot at her three times , and then killed himself. Iacono filed suit against Mehlman's estate, which sought coverage under his policies. Both policies excluded coverage for bodily injury caused by "willful and malicious acts of the insured".
The court held that Mehlman's intoxication did not negate the intent on his part to harm Iacono. Mehlman's repeated attempts to shoot Iacono revealed unmistakable intent on his behalf, therefore, the insurer did not have a duty to defend or indemnify Mehlman's estate in the action.
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Thanks to Heather Aquino for her contribution to this post.


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