Defense Win

Sean W. Martin, a shareholder in the Chattanooga, Tennessee office of Carr Allison, successfully defended a two-fronted attack by third-party plaintiffs seeking insurance coverage from Mr. Martin’s client.

The bizarre factual allegations of the case are as follows:

The son of the insureds for Mr. Martin’s client (“Boyfriend”) was romantically involved with the daughter of the third-party plaintiffs (“Girlfriend”). Girlfriend was pregnant with Boyfriend’s baby. The two had a tumultuous relationship that ended when Boyfriend strangled to death Girlfriend’s hamster. Upon discovery of this senseless act of violence against the hamster, Girlfriend expelled Boyfriend from the apartment they shared. Boyfriend moved back in with his parents.

Sometime later, the couple’s child arrived. Boyfriend wanted to see his child and advised Girlfriend that he was coming over to Girlfriend’s parent’s house. He was instructed not to visit, but came anyway. He brought his mother with him. During the visit, the two mothers got into a verbal altercation that turned physical when the Boyfriend’s mother allegedly choked Girlfriend’s mother. Girlfriend’s father and Boyfriend tried to break up the brawling mothers. During the melee, Boyfriend allegedly punched Girlfriend’s mother in face. The police were called and arrests were made.

A civil action followed against Boyfriend and his parents with the third-party plaintiff alleging that the Boyfriend’s dad knew or should have known that Boyfriend would knock Girlfriend’s mother out because he  previously strangled Girlfriend’s hamster.

Mr. Martin’s client denied coverage and filed a declaratory judgment action against its insured. A resolution was reached and the declaratory judgment action was dismissed. After the case was dismissed, the third-party plaintiffs filed a motion to intervene seeking coverage for their claims. At the same time, the third-party plaintiffs filed a miscellaneous action in the same court to set aside the dismissal, reinstate the case, and allow the third-party plaintiffs to assert a claim for coverage.

The court dismissed both actions and no appeal was taken. The full opinions can be found at Weinstein v. Homesite Ins. Co., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13359 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 4, 2014) and Homesite Ins. Co. of the Midwest v. Robards, 2014 U.S. Dist LEXIS 12879 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 3, 2014).

Sean W. Martin, is a shareholder in the Chattanooga, Tennessee office of Carr Allison.  Sean can be reached at swmartin@carrallison.com or (423) 648-9834.

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