Brad Fischer, Perry Goodman Obtain Insurance Coverage Win

Fort Lauderdale Partner Bradley S. Fischer and Associate Perry R. Goodman recently won summary judgment in a Florida federal court insurance coverage dispute that could have wide-ranging implications.

The case stems from a claim by an underage University of Miami student who was sexually assaulted by two college football players after becoming intoxicated at a bar insured by our client, Hudson Specialty Insurance Company.

After Hudson denied coverage based on an assault and battery exclusion in the insured’s liquor liability policy, the insured then entered into a $3.5 million consent judgment and assigned to the claimant the right to seek damages under the insurance policy.

The claimant subsequently sued Hudson asserting a novel argument that coverage was available based on the “concurrent cause” and “efficient proximate cause” doctrines to the extent that the damages resulted from both the assault and the insured’s alleged wrongful serving of alcohol to underage students. The “concurrent cause” doctrine extends insurance coverage to situations where a loss would not have occurred but for the joinder of independent covered and uncovered causes of a harm, while coverage exists under the “efficient proximate cause” doctrine where a covered peril sets in motion an uncovered peril.

The court rejected the claimant’s argument and agreed with Hudson’s position that the “concurrent cause” and “efficient proximate cause” doctrines are “ill fit” for determining whether coverage extends to negligence claims in cases “arising out of” an assault and battery exclusion when the policy includes an assault and battery exclusion.

This decision paves the way for arguments by insurers in future cases that the “concurrent cause” and “efficient proximate cause” doctrines simply do not apply to “arising out of” exclusionary language.

Read the full opinion here.

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