Three Missouri judges have upheld an arbitration ruling ordering GEICO General Insurance Company to shell out a $5.2 million settlement to a woman who alleged she contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD) during car sex, according to a report.
The ruling came down Tuesday from a panel of judges in the Missouri Court of Appeals after the insurance company mounted a legal effort to reverse the arbitration settlement, the Kansas City Star reported.
The bizarre court case saga’s roots extend back to 2017 when a woman, referred to in court documents as M.O., allegedly contracted anogenital Human Papillomavirus (HPV) from a man identified as M.B. while they engaged in unprotected sex in his Hyundai Genesis, the Insurance Journal previously reported. The claimant alleged that M.B was aware that he had HPV, but he neither took measures to protect her from the disease nor did he disclose the diagnosis.
According to an October 2021 GEICO court filing, M.B had a pair of insurance policies with the company, including “a Kansas Family Automobile Insurance Policy that listed M.B.’s Hyundai Genesis and an umbrella policy.”
An arbitrator found that a man was liable because his romantic partner contracted HPV after he had been diagnosed and they had sex in his car. https://t.co/clPHGsgdrH
— The Kansas City Star (@KCStar) June 7, 2022
Per the court documents, M.O. was diagnosed with the illness in 2018 and, years later, in February 2021, sent the company a demand letter with a petition asserting negligence on behalf of M.B.
GEICO wrote that it had investigated the claim and allegedly found that “M.B. said that he told M.O. on three different occasions that he had been diagnosed with HPV-positive throat cancer.”
By March, the sexual partners entered an agreement to settle the claim, which GEICO asserted it was not aware of, while the insurance company filed a declaratory judgment in April, per the October filing.
“GEICO seeks a declaratory judgment that these policies do not provide coverage for M.O.’s alleged injuries, and therefore GIECO [sic] has no duty to defend or indemnify M.B. against M.O.’s claim,” the company asserted in in the filing, per the October documents.
In May of that year, the sexual partners submitted the claim to arbitration, and the following day M.O. was awarded $5.2 million and subsequently filed a lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court later in the month, per the filing from last Fall. GEICO asserted that is when it first became privy to the settlement agreement that allowed for M.O. to collect the money from GEICO.
The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday:
The insurance company filed motions seeking a new hearing of the evidence and for the award to be tossed out, saying the judgment violated the company’s rights to due process and the arbitration agreement was unenforceable. The company appealed after those requests were denied.
The three-judge panel tasked with reviewing the case found that the lower court did not make a mistake by denying the company’s motions, saying GEICO did not have a right to “relitigate those issues” once damages had been determined and a judgment was entered.
In a separate opinion on the matter, Judge Tom Chapman agreed with the panel’s ruling but said that GEICO was not given a “meaningful” chance to participate in the case and that an “insurer” is relegated to a “bystander” in such cases under the law, according to the Star.
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