Geico has been ordered to pay $5.2 million in damages to a woman who contracted a sexually transmitted disease in the insured vehicle of her then-boyfriend, a state appellate court ruled.
On Tuesday, the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District published an opinion in favor of the woman, identified as M.O., who alleged that she contracted HPV during a sexual encounter in the insured’s vehicle in 2017.
HPV or human papillomavirus can spread through direct sexual contact and cause warts on the genitals and surrounding areas.
“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 opinion wrote.
M.O. asserted her then-boyfriend’s car insurance policy covered her injuries and losses in a claim in 2021. Geico turned down her claim and she took matters to an arbitrator, who found the insured “negligently infected M.O. with HPV and awarded her $5.2 million in damages,” court documents said.
She then filed the motion with the trial court that ruled in her favor and confirmed the judgment of $5.2 million in damages for “past and future medical expenses,” as well as “past and future mental and physical pain and suffering.”
Geico appealed the judgment claiming they were not given “meaningful opportunity to defend its interests,” court documents said.
“But 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,” the appeals court opinion said.
USA TODAY has reached out to the attorneys for both Geico and the woman and did not immediately hear back.
The appeals court also found that Geico did not have the right to “re-litigate” the issues after the award had been affirmed.
In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Geico said, “The question of whether there is coverage for this matter will be determined” by a federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Story cited here.
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