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CONTRACTUAL LIABILITY: Appellate Court affirms holding that insurer had no duty to defend because the plaintiff’s claim was barred by the assault and battery exclusion of the insurance policy

The plaintiff appealed from a judgment in favor of the defendant, Starr Indemnity and Liability company, on the ground that the defendant had no duty to defend its insured, Copa Entertainment Group LLC, the owner and operator of Zen Bar where the plaintiff was injured. The plaintiff sustained injuries and was awarded $131,500 in damages against the insured defendant by an arbitrator in a separate action. In that action, plaintiff alleged that she was a patron at the insured’s bar when a fight broke out, and was assaulted, punched, kicked, and dragged so as to cause her extensive personal injuries. The insured assigned its rights under the insurance policy issued by the defendant. The insurer refused to defend or indemnify its insured due to a policy exclusion for injuries arising out of assault and battery. Plaintiff commenced suit against the insurer the failure to defend or indemnify Copa Entertainment in the underlying action. The Superior Court initially denied summary judgment for the insurer, noting that a DJ action could have been filed but was not and noting that there were issues of fact as to the duty to indemnify.  Subsequently, a different judge granted summary judgment for the insurer Pursuant to Connecticut Supreme Court precedent holding that the duty to defend is purely a question of law and that if no duty to defend exists there can be no duty to indemnify. On appeal, the Appellate Court rejects the claim that the Superior Court was bound by the law of the case doctrine from granting summary judgment for the insurer. The court notes that the denial of the initial motion for summary judgment was not a final judgment and further notes that the denial was wrong under Supreme Court precedent. Lindsey Marco v. Starr Indemnity and Liability Company, No. 43376, 2021 WL 2173756 (Conn. App. Ct. June 1, 2021).