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INSURANCE LAW: District Court grants summary judgment for insurer based upon assault and battery exclusion

The case arises from an assault that occurred on December 2, 2006, when the owner of a paving company instructed an employee to remain at the business office overnight to prepare for a job early the next morning.  The owner and another individual then came to the premises to obtain business information from the employee by whatever means were required.  The other individual proceeded to attack the employee with a two-by-four and with steel-toed boots, then doused him with gasoline and lit him on fire.  The employee subsequently brought lawsuits against the owner and the other individual, which claims were settled.

In a declaratory judgment action by the insurer for the employer under a general liability policy, the insurer argued that an exclusion for assault or battery caused by or at the instigation or direction of any insured or any other person, as well as the failure to prevent or suppress such an assault or battery.  The insurer argued that fact issues existed with regard to whether the owner’s conduct was outside the terms of the exclusion, claiming that the alleged failure to warn the other individual against harming the employee was not excluded from coverage.  The insurer also claims that the owner’s alleged negligent invitation to the other individual to enter the premises and their alleged joint venture to obtain information from the employee fell outside the exclusion.

Relying on Connecticut Appellate Court precedent and other cases, the District Court holds that under Connecticut law, any negligence or other wrongful acts by the owner that led to the assault and battery were excluded by the policy language.

Atlantic Casualty Ins. Co. v. Robinson, 2016 WL 3198204 (D.Conn. 6/8/16)