Geico has been ordered to pay $5.2 million in damages to a Missouri woman who allegedly contracted a sexually transmitted disease, known as HPV, in an insured car owned by her then-boyfriend.
On June 7, the Missouri Court of Appeals published an opinion siding with the woman, identified in court papers as M.O., who said she contracted HPV while having sex in the policyholder’s car in 2017.
HPV, short for human papillomavirus, is a common sexually transmitted disease with symptoms that include warts on or near the genitals. Although many people with HPV are asymptomatic, they can still infect others via sexual contact. While treatment can help people with HPV, there is no cure.
M.O. alleged that her partner caused her to become infected with HPV by failing to take proper precautions and not disclosing his diagnosis, even though he knew of his condition.
In a claim she filed with the insurer in 2021, she said the Geico policy insuring his car provided coverage for her injuries and other damages.
According to court documents,.after Geico denied her claim and rejected her $1 million settlement offer, she took the dispute to an arbitrator, who found that the insured negligently infected her with HPV, and awarded her $5.2 million in damages.
In rejecting the claim, GEICO had told M.O. that its auto insurance coverage was not triggered because the claimed damages did not stem from “normal use of the vehicle.”The boyfriend had denied knowing that he could transmit HPV to M.O. and that he had infected her with the disease.
A trial court ruled in M.O.’s favor and confirmed the arbitrator’s $5.2 million award for past and future medical expenses, and past and future mental and physical pain and suffering.
Geico appealed, arguing that it had not been given a “meaningful opportunity to defend its interests,” court documents said. However, the appeals court disagreed, saying the insurer had an opportunity to challenge liability and damages by defending its policyholder.
In addition, the court said Geico cannot relitigate the issues as the award has been affirmed.
You can read the full text of the appeals court’s decision here.
Last April, Geico sued both M.O. and her former boyfriend in Missouri federal court and asked the court to rule that it is not liable for M.O.’s HPV infection and that it does not have a duty to defend the man from her claims.
M.O. subsequently accused the insurer of acting in bad faith by refusing to defend its policyholder and settle her claims. She alleges that the auto policy insured him against liability connected to negligence actions involving his car.
A jury trial in the federal lawsuit is set for October.
The personal injury lawyers at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers are following this case closely.
If you have suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence, the attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers LLC can help. Call us today at (617) 777-7777 or fill out our online form.