GEICO must pay $5.2 million to a Missouri woman who contracted a sexually transmitted disease from a partner in his vehicle, which was insured by the company, a court has ruled.
This week, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld an arbitrator’s award in favor of the woman, identified publicly as M.O., who alleged that her then-boyfriend, identified as M.B., knowingly gave her Human papillomavirus (HPV) during sexual activity in his car in 2017, the Associated Press reports.
HPV can be transmitted through sexual contact and may cause warts to develop on the genitals and surrounding parts of the body.
“Insured ‘negligently caused or contributed to cause [M.O.] to be infected with HPV by not taking proper precautions and neglecting to inform and/or disclose his diagnosis,’ despite ‘having knowledge of his condition,’” the decision reads, according to USA Today.
The woman submitted a claim to GEICO in February 2021, arguing that the boyfriend’s car insurance policy covered her injuries and the company was required to compensate for her losses. The insurer denied the claim and refused her final settlement offer of $1 million, prompting her to appeal to an arbitrator.
The arbitrator agreed with the claimant, concluding that the boyfriend was negligent when he infected the woman with the virus and awarded her $5.2 million in damages.
The woman then sought to enforce the arbitrator’s award in Jackson County Circuit Court, which affirmed the $5.2 million judgment, NPR reports. The award covers “past and future medical expenses” and “past and future mental and physical pain and suffering,” the decision reads, according to USA Today.
GEICO subsequently sought a review of the decision from the state Court of Appeals, arguing that it was not provided with a “meaningful opportunity to defend its interests,” CNN reports.
The Court of Appeals held otherwise, writing: “Geico did have the opportunity to participate and defend its interests—including the ability to challenge liability and damages—by entering a defense of Insured.”
In a statement to CBS News, GEICO said the matter will continue to be litigated. The company in April filed a federal lawsuit seeking a declaration that it has no duty to defend or indemnify the boyfriend for the claims asserted by M.O. That case is pending.
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[Featured image: Pixabay]