BENTON – An insurance company argues that it should not have to pay in a case involving a fatal shooting.
Nautilus Insurance Company filed the suit March 18 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against Action ATM Inc. and Silver J. Franklin.
The plaintiff issued a commercial general liability policy to Action ATM for Nov. 4, 2014 to Nov. 4, 2015.
According to the complaint, there is an underlying lawsuit that doesn't directly involve the plaintiff but seeks to hold it liable for punitive damages. In the underlying lawsuit, Franklin has been charged with the first-degree murder of Donte Woodson and armed criminal action.
The plaintiff claims Franklin doesn't qualify as an insured under the policy because the alleged murder falls outside the scope of his employment as owner and operations manager of Action ATM. In fact, the suit alleges, the plaintiff has no duty under the policy to defend the defendants against the first amended petition (FAP) for wrongful death filed by the deceased's estate, nor does it have to indemnify the defendant for any judgment or settlement entered in the Woodson lawsuit.
In addition, the suit alleges the policy does not provide coverage for the FAP because it does not allege “occurrence” as the term is defined in the policy.
The policy also doesn't apply to bodily injury, property damage, actual or alleged assault or battery, a physical altercation, or psychological damages, the suit alleges. The policy also excludes the use of any weapon, and it doesn't apply to punitive or exemplary damages.
Further, the plaintiff argues that the Woodson lawsuit was filed on Nov. 3, 2015. The first notice the plaintiff is alleged to have received was on Feb. 12, six months after the alleged occurrence and three months after the underlying lawsuit was filed. The policy states that notification must take place immediately or as soon as practicable.
The plaintiff requests that the court: determine and adjudicate the rights and liabilities of the parties with respect to the Nautilus policy; declare that said policy does not provide for the injuries alleged in the Woodson FAP; declare that the plaintiff has no duty to defend the defendants or to indemnify the defendants for any judgment or settlement entered in the Woodon lawsuit; and grant the plaintiff other relief that the court deems proper.
The plaintiff is represented by Kent J. Cummings of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in Chicago.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois case number 16-cv-295