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GEICO ordered to pay $5.2 million to woman who got STD in insured car

A gavel rests on a judge bench. (The Columbus Dispatch/TNS)
June 10, 2022

A Missouri appellate court ordered the insurance company GEICO to pay $5.2 million to a woman who — after having sex with her then-boyfriend in his Geico-insured car — contracted the sexually transmitted disease HPV.

According to the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District opinion published on Tuesday, a woman identified as M.O. asserted that because her boyfriend “negligently infected her with the disease during sexual encounters in his automobile,” his car insurance policy — issued by GEICO – should cover her injuries and losses.

Court documents showed that M.O. filed a claim with GEICO in 2021, which stated that between November and December of 2017, M.O. and her boyfriend – referred to as “insured” – had “unprotected sexual activities in Insured’s vehicle, and during those sexual encounters, 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.’”

“M.O. alleged that as a result of Insured’s negligence, she incurred, and will incur, ‘past and future medical expenses,’ as well as ‘past and future mental and physical pain and suffering,” the decision said, referencing M.O.’s claim.

GEICO denied the woman coverage, as well as a settlement offer of $1 million, and sought to legally establish “the parties’ rights and obligations under the insurance policy” in federal court.

“GEICO informed M.O. via letter that it had ‘completed [its] coverage investigation’ and determined ‘there was no coverage’ because the ‘damages claimed did not arise out of the normal use of the vehicle,’’ court documents stated.

M.O. subsequently entered into a Contract to Limit Recovery to Specified Assets and Arbitration Agreement with Insured, during which she requested an award of $9.9 million in damages. The arbitrator determined that an award of $5.2 million was fair because Insured “knew he had ‘been told that his throat cancer tumor was diagnosed as HPV positive.’”

“Insured should have disclosed his diagnosis to M.O. prior to the sexual activity that occurred, but he did not; and Insured ‘was negligent and is liable for causing M.O. to contract HPV,’” the documents stated.

M.O. then filed her Petition for Damages in the trial court, which confirmed the arbitration award. GEICO filed several motions arguing that the “arbitration award and judgment confirming it should be vacated because the award ‘was procured by collusion, fraud, [and] undue means,’” but the motions were denied.

GEICO then appealed the decision, asserting that it was denied the opportunity to defend its interests, but the appeals court determined that the insurance company “did have the opportunity to participate and defend its interests—including the ability to challenge liability and damages—by entering a defense of Insured.”

GEICO told CBS MoneyWatch in a statement that “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.