Not in Westchester County?
October 16, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Putnam sex assault not covered by homeowners policy, Metropolitan Insurance argues

An insurance company says it should not have to defend or insure a Mahopac couple whose son allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted a minor girl.

Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Co. of Warwick, Rhode Island is seeking “a judicial determination that it has no obligation to defend or indemnify” the couple under their homeowners insurance policy, according to the lawsuit filed this month in federal court, White Plains.

Metropolitan’s lawsuit was triggered by a $1 million lawsuit filed in Putnam Supreme Court in June by the mother of the girl who claims she was assaulted. The girl’s mother is accusing the parents of the boy of negligence for improperly supervising their son.

The Business Journal is not identifying the adults named in the lawsuits, to protect the privacy of the children involved in the alleged assault.

The underlying issue is an incident in May 2017 in which the boy, the son of the Mahopac couple, allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted the girl.

The girl’s mother claims that the boy’s parents knew that their son was taking medication or getting treatment for psychological issues and that he was violent toward them.

In the month before the alleged attack on her daughter, the lawsuit alleges, the boy was accused of sexually abusing another minor child. In October 2017, the boy pleaded guilty to felony sexual abuse on a person “incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless.”

The boy’s parents had a duty to supervise their son’s conduct, the girl’s mother claims, and they knew or should have known that their son “tended towards violence.”

As a result of the their negligence, the complaint states, the girl suffered “severe and debilitating physical, psychological and emotional injuries.”

A lawyer for the boy’s parents filed a motion last month to strike several of the allegations as inadmissible and highly prejudicial.

“The crux of the complaint is that the minor, (the boy), offered a pot brownie to another minor, (the girl), while at a midnight assignation in a boathouse,” attorney Adam Silverstein argued, “and thereafter rubbed his penis against her buttocks.”

“There is absolutely no violence alleged to have been committed by (the boy),” Silverstein argued.

There is no factual basis for the allegation that the boy had received treatment for psychological issues.

The boy’s guilty plea concerns another individual and a dissimilar incident that came to light only after the girl made her allegations.

“The relevance of a prior unknown incident is highly doubtful,” Silverstein said.

Under the homeowners policy, Metropolitan pays for bodily injury and property damage for which the law holds the policy holders responsible. The policy also provides that Metropolitan will defend the policy holders, with a counsel of its choice, against lawsuits seeking such damages.

But there are exceptions.

The insurance policy does not cover damages that are the result of intentional criminal acts or omissions. It does not cover bodily injuries caused by emotional and mental anguish. It does not cover bodily injury resulting from “actual, alleged or threatened sexual molestation.”

The policy also has a joint obligations clause, Metropolitan argues, that binds alleged acts by the boy upon his parents.

The boy’s alleged acts fall within the insurance policy exclusions, Metropolitan argues, therefore the federal court should declare that there is no coverage under the policy.