The Florida Court of Appeals in Old Dominion Ins. Co. v. Stellar Concepts & Design, Inc., 189 So.3d 293 (Fla. App. 2016) held that a CGL policy covered liability for the insured’s placing robocalls in violation of state law. The Court found that the policy’s expected or intended injury exclusion did not apply where the evidence demonstrated that the insured did not intend to harm the recipients of the robocalls even though the insured understood that the calls would cause the recipients to lose the use of the phone lines for the duration of the call.
The insurance company argued that the insureds had intended to place the calls and, therefore, there was no “occurrence” under the policy. Alternatively, the insurance company argued that if the Court found that there was an occurrence, then the policy’s “expected or intended injury” exclusion applied.
The Florida Court of Appeals (4th District) held that the insurance company’s failure to define the term “accident” within the definition of “occurrence” precluded the insurer from construing the term narrowly in order to avoid coverage. Therefore, the Court construed the term “accident” to include the unintended consequences of the insured’s intentional conduct. The Court gave consideration to the insured’s subjective belief that, based upon the insured’s internet research, the calls were believed to be legal. Therefore, the Court found that the insured lacked intent to injure.
Steven Plitt is an accomplished author and expert witness, and has been a licensed attorney for 33 years. During his career, he has reviewed and analyzed more than 6,000 claim files from 100 different insurance companies. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, he serves as counselor and expert for insurance coverage and bad faith claims nationwide. For more information or to set up an appointment, please visit his website at insuranceexpertplitt.com