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INSURANCE LAW: Supreme Court holds that voluntary intoxication does not preclude a finding of intent on the part of the policyholder

INSURANCE LAW: Supreme Court Holds That Voluntary Intoxication Does Not Preclude A Finding Of Intent On The Part Of The Policyholder

In a declaratory judgment action, a homeowner’s insurer sought a declaration that it did not owe coverage pursuant to an intentional acts exclusion.  The underlying claim arose out of an allegation that the homeowner was under the influence of alcohol when he approached three minor females on a trail in Farmington, grabbing one and fondling another.  The homeowner presented evidence from a psychologist stating in effect that the homeowner was so intoxicated that he would have been incapable of forming an intent to harm.  The trial court found in favor of the insurer, granting the insurer’s motion for summary judgment.  The Supreme Court affirms, noting that the homeowner voluntarily consumed alcohol.  There were no allegations that he was so drunk that he accidentally fell down and touched the girls.

The court held that the underlying complaint alleged presumptively intentional conduct and that evidence of voluntary intoxication could not be utilized to negate that intent.  The court reasoned that since the legislature had specifically precluded voluntary intoxication as a defense in the criminal context, the court would extend that same public policy to the insurance context.

State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Tully (08/23/16)

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