A Missouri woman is suing GEICO after contracting a sexually transmitted disease in a car insured by the company.
The woman, identified in District Court documents as M.O., had a sexual relationship with the insured, M.B., in late 2017 including unprotected sex in the latter’s 2014 Hyundai Genesis. M.O. alleges that M.B. had been previously diagnosed with anogenital human papillomavirus (HPV), but he did not tell her about his condition or take steps to prevent transmitting the virus.
GEICO investigated the claim and found that M.B. said that he told M.O. “on three different occasions” that he had been diagnosed with HPV-positive throat cancer. M.B. also said that the two had sex in locations other than the insured car.
M.O., who was diagnosed with anogenital HPV in 2018, sent a demand letter to GEICO seeking $1 million in February, triggering a declaratory judgment from the company. GEICO alleges its policies do not cover M.O.’s injuries because they have no connection to the “ownership, maintenance or covered use” of the car.
M.B. was covered by a Geico auto policy and an umbrella policy that only applies if the auto policy provides coverage.
In March, M.O. and M.B. entered into an agreement in Jackson County, Mo. Circuit Court awarding M.O. $5.2m but limiting M.B.’s liability to M.O., leaving the latter free to pursue recovery from GEICO.
GEICO said it was unaware of this agreement until afterwards and has filed motions to amend and vacate the $5.2m judgment, which it argues was the result of a “collusive and non-adversarial arbitration proceeding.” GEICO has moved for a new trial and appealed the judgment.
Also at stake is the litigants’ request to proceed anonymously. Their request was denied by Magistrate Judge Angel D. Mitchell in an Oct. 4 opinion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. Mitchell said the public’s interest outweighs the potential embarrassment M.O. or M.B. may experience.
“Indeed, the details of their relationship are less private in the context of the nature of the case, in which defendants assert insurance coverage claims that present novel and arguably important legal issues that will likely be of interest to other insurance companies and insureds,” Mitchell wrote.
M.O. and M.B. may proceed anonymously pending whether the court grants M.O.’s motion to dismiss GEICO’s declaratory judgment for lack or jurisdiction.
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