U.S. District Court Judge Walker D. Miller ruled on September 22, 2010,
that an automobile insurance policy that excluded coverage for an insured’s
intentional acts was valid and enforceable and not against the public
policy of Colorado.
The insureds’ young son, who was also a named insured, apparently
broke-up with his girlfriend and was emotionally distraught. He drove
to the girlfriend’s house and demanded to be let in. The girlfriend
refused him entrance and called a friend to come and help her. The friend
brought two other friends with him. The friends and the girlfriend then
drove away in a Ford Explorer.
The ex-boyfriend followed in a Chevrolet Suburban, an insured vehicle,
and at one point struck the rear of the Explorer. He then pulled alongside
the Explorer and discharged a shotgun into the left passenger window,
striking and seriously injuring two of the Explorer’s passengers.
The young ex-boyfriend then committed suicide.
The injured passengers filed suit against the parents of the young man
and Government Employees Insurance Company, claiming that the parents
had negligently entrusted the vehicle (allowed the vehicle’s use)
to their son. The injured persons also claimed that the insurance provision
that excluded coverage for an insured’s intentional acts that caused
injury was against the public policy of the state of Colorado.
The federal court noted that this precise issue had not been ruled upon
before by the Colorado Supreme Court. The parties to the lawsuit did not
request, as they had a right to do, that the federal court submit the
question to the Colorado Supreme Court for its determination.
Judge Miller was required by his decision to predict how the Colorado
Supreme Court would decide the issue if it were presented to that court.
He ruled, based upon Colorado court decisions on similar issues that the
intentional acts coverage exclusion was valid and was consistent with
Colorado’s public policy. Summary judgment (without a trial) was
entered in favor of GEICO.