The Western District of Washington granted an insurer’s motion for summary judgment, holding there was no coverage for the underlying lawsuits in Am. Strategic Ins. Corp. v. Jackson, No. 3:23-cv-05461-RJB, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17172 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 31, 2024). The underlying litigation involves a former boys’ basketball coach for Sumner High School who was alleged to have sexual molested multiple former players while they were minors. The insurer filed a declaratory action and a motion for summary judgment, seeking a declaration that there was no duty to defend nor indemnify the underlying lawsuits.

The former coach first argued that the Motion for Summary Judgment was premature, as he could not testify on his behalf without waiving Fifth Amendment rights in the criminal case. The Court held that there was no issue, as there were no “substantive grounds” as to why the testimony of the defendant was necessary to argue for coverage under the insurance policy.
The Court then moved to the substance. First, they noted that, under the policy, there was coverage for an “occurrence,” defined as “an accident.” The Court noted that the allegations in the underlying lawsuits did not allege an accident, but rather they “allege a series of intentional acts of childhood sexual abuse” by the defendant. The Court therefore held there was no “occurrence” so no coverage under the policy.

The Court also took note that multiple exclusions apply, in particular an exclusion for bodily injury that is “expected or intended by an insured,” and an exclusion for bodily injury “arising out of sexual molestation.” The Court held that each of these exclusions would independently remove coverage for the underlying lawsuits. The Court therefore granted the Motion for Summary Judgment to the insurer.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Soha and Lang, P.S. or its clients.