Summary Judgment Affirmed by Eleventh Circuit in Coverage Dispute

Partners Joseph Lowe and Richard Jones successfully affirmed summary judgment in a coverage case involving the interpretation of a specified medical professions professional liability policy. The case involved a plaintiff who claimed she suffered a stroke after being given a massage at a massage parlor by a therapist who was an independent contractor. The independent contractor did not have any insurance; however, the owner of the massage parlor carried an insurance policy that covered herself as a named insured for her own direct acts but contained exclusions for liability arising out of her role as a business owner or operator.

The plaintiff sued the employer directly, claiming she was vicariously liable for the acts of the independent contractor in having delegated the massage. The employer’s insurance carrier disclaimed coverage on the grounds that she did not perform the massage herself, the policy did not provide coverage for vicarious liability, and triggered the business operations exclusion.  The plaintiff entered into a Coblentz agreement with the employer in the amount of $500,000 and sued the insurance carrier. The insurance carrier was favored with summary judgment which was ultimately affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

The case is: Lewis v. Evanston Ins. Co., 690 Fed. Appx. 638 (11th Cir. 2017).

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