Exclusion for Intentional Act: Erie Insurance Exchange v. Tracy L. Moore et al.

In Erie Insurance Exchange v. Moore, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to address whether shooting someone who was coincidentally shot during a planned murder-suicide constituted an “occurrence” under Pennsylvania law, and whether the previous Superior Court ruling that liability insurance should not cover damages resulting from “evil or illegal conduct” was contradictory to prior precedent and public policy. On this issue, Erie Insurance Exchange appeals a ruling that they must defend a gunman’s estate against claims made by the victim.

According to the opinion, the victim’s complaint characterized the gunshots as being “carelessly, negligently, and recklessly fired.” However, the shooter’s homeowners policy excluded coverage for “bodily injury . . . expected or intended by anyone we protect,” further defining a covered occurrence as “an accident . . . which results in personal injury or property damage which is neither expected nor intended.” In May 2016 the court granted summary judgment in favor of Erie Insurance Exchange, finding that the shooter clearly intended to injure the victim. However, the court reversed the decision on appeal, accepting claims that the gun accidentally discharged when the victim intervened in the murder-suicide.