Wednesday, January 1, 2014

State Farm Fire & Casualty Company v. S.S. & G.W. case brief

State Farm Fire & Casualty Company v. S.S. & G.W. case brief summary
858 S.W.2d 374 (1993)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioner insurer challenged the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Third District of Texas, which reversed and remanded the summary judgment in favor of the insurer and held that the insurer failed to meet its summary judgment burden. The insurer filed a declaratory judgment action against respondents, an insured and a claimant, when the claimant sought damages under the insured's homeowner's policy for the transmission of genital herpes.

CASE FACTS
Respondents engaged in consensual sexual intercourse, and the claimant contracted the herpes virus. She requested that the insured compensate her for her injuries. The insured informed his insurer, which investigated and rejected the claim. Respondents entered into an agreement providing for the entry of a $ 1 million judgment for the negligent transmission of herpes. The insurer filed an action seeking a declaration that it was not obligated to pay the judgment because the claim fell within the policy's intentional injury exclusion.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The insurer sought review of the appellate court's judgment reversing the summary judgment granted by the trial court in favor of the insurer.

DISCUSSION

  • The court held that an issue of material fact existed concerning whether the insured knew with substantial certainty that he would transmit herpes to the claimant, and the court affirmed the appellate court's judgment. 
  • The court held that, although it was undisputed that the insured intentionally engaged in sexual intercourse without informing the claimant of his condition, the summary judgment evidence did not indicate that the insured had acted with intent to cause the claimant bodily injury.
CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the appellate court's judgment, which reversed the summary judgment in favor of the insurer, holding that an issue of material fact existed concerning whether the insured knew at the time of intercourse with substantial certainty that he would transmit herpes to the claimant, that intent to injure was not inferred as a matter of law, and that the trial court improperly rendered summary judgment.


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