Academic journal article Journal of Risk and Insurance

"Criminal Acts" Exclusion in Homeowners Policy Precludes Coverage for Liability Arising from Accidental Shooting

Academic journal article Journal of Risk and Insurance

"Criminal Acts" Exclusion in Homeowners Policy Precludes Coverage for Liability Arising from Accidental Shooting

Article excerpt

"CRIMINAL ACTS" EXCLUSION IN HOMEOWNERS POLICY PRECLUDES COVERAGE FOR LIABILITY ARISING FROM ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING

Allstate Insurance Co. v. James Robert Peasley, 131 Wash. 420, 933 P.2d 1244 (1997)

James Peasley accidently shot Ardis Parker, a guest in his home. Notwithstanding the unintentional nature of the shooting, Peasley was tried and convicted of second-degree assault. The conviction was reversed on appeal on the basis of a defective jury instruction. On remand, Peasley pled guilty to second-degree reckless endangerment and received a suspended sentence. Parker filed a civil lawsuit against Peasley for damages. Allstate, Peasley's insurer, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to avoid coverage on the basis of language in the policy excluding coverage for "criminal acts" of the insured.

The court accepted Allstate's view that coverage was unavailable whenever the claim arose out of criminal acts by the insured, even where the precise damage suffered by the claimant was not intended as part of the insured's criminal conduct. In other words, it did not matter-for coverage purposes-that the insured did not intend to shoot the victim or cause shooting injuries. What mattered was that the insured had engaged in criminal conduct by brandishing the gun and attempting to intimidate the victim. …

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