Insurer must pay $5.2 million to woman who caught STD in car
June 8, 2022 — A Missouri lawsuit adds a new twist to the type of “bodily harm” in an insurance-covered car.
This week, a three-judge panel in the State Court of Appeals, Western District, upheld a $5.2 million settlement by a woman who caught a sexually transmitted disease from her former boyfriend in her car.
The woman, identified in court documents as MO, said she contracted HPV, the human papillomavirus, from her boyfriend. She said he knew he had the disease but didn’t tell her.
An arbitrator concluded in May 2021 that car sex had “directly caused or directly contributed to causing” the transmission of STDs. The man was found responsible. The woman received $5.2 million to be paid by GEICO, which insured the man’s vehicle.
GEICO sought to have the award set aside, alleging that it had been denied due process and that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable.
Court documents show GEICO asserted that the man’s policy only covered injuries that arose out of “the ownership, maintenance or use of the … automobile” and that the woman’s “injuries resulted from from an intermediate cause – namely, his inability to prevent the transmission of STDs by having unprotected sex.
The state appeals board ruled on July 7 that the lower court made no error in the case and upheld the decision.
The Kansas City Star reported that one of the judges agreed, but said GEICO had been offered “no meaningful opportunity to participate” in the lawsuit and that the existing law “relegated the insurer to spectator status.”
“This case presents new and potentially significant questions about whether an insurance company can be held liable under such policies for the consequences of two adults having willful unprotected sex in the insured’s automobile” , US Magistrate Judge Angel D. Mitchell noted in court documents. “The interpretation of these policies could have far-reaching implications for other policies with similar terms.