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Vol. 11 - Issue 3

June 15, 2022


The Real Issue In The Sex In A Car Case That Everyone Is Talking About


OMGosh.  It has been non-stop chatter about last week’s Missouri Court of Appeals decision holding that GEICO could owe $5.2 million to a woman who contracted human papillomavirus from having unprotected sex in its insured’s 2014 Hyundai Genesis.  The case has been covered by such major media as CNN, NBC, CBS, The Washington Post, and on and on and on.  [In fact, seven CO readers sent me the opinion and suggested that I include it in the newsletter.   I’m not sure if I should be flattered or concerned that people think of me when crazy cases come up.]

Of course, $5.2 million and sex in a car is an easy headline.  But those media big boys don’t address the real issue at hand.  For that, you need to go to tiny little, low budget, one man band, Coverage Opinions.

First, in the decision getting all the hoopla, the Missouri Court of Appeals, in M.O. v. GEICO General Ins. Co, No. WD84722 (Mo. Ct. App. June 7, 2022), rejected GEICO’s argument that it did not have a meaningful opportunity to defend its interests, when it intervened in an action where M.O., the victim, was seeking to confirm an arbitrator’s award, of $5.2 million, for the damages that she sustained on account of contracting the STD.  Without getting into the details about GEICO’s initial involvement in the claim, and how it ended up in arbitration, the case is essentially procedural, addressing the rights of an intervenor under Missouri law and the ability to challenge an arbitration award.

But here’s the real story -- and the one not being addressed in those media pieces: how is having unprotected sex in a Hyundai, that leads to the contraction of an STD, covered under an automobile policy in the first place?  [I bet that Volvo, given its long-time touting of its safety record, has a warning sign on the dashboard about this.  Can any Volvo owners let me know.]  

According to GEICO, having unprotected sex in a Hyundai, that leads to the contraction of an STD, is not covered under an automobile policy.  And the insurer has an action pending, in the Western District of Missouri, seeking to establish just that.  I obtained a copy of the complaint and here’s the crux of GEICO’s no coverage argument: 

29. The Auto Policy only covers bodily injuries and property damage that arise “out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the owned or non-owned auto.”

30. The above-described facts and damages alleged by M.O. do not arise out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the listed 2014 Hyundai Genesis. Therefore, the damages demanded by M.O. are not covered by the Auto Policy.

31. Even assuming M.O. contracted HPV from M.B. in the listed 2014 Hyundai Genesis (meaning the motor vehicle was the situs of a claimed injury), there is no causal connection between a covered use of the insured vehicle and the alleged injury.

32. Any injury to M.O. did not arise out of a covered use of the listed 2014 Hyundai Genesis.

33. Any injury to M.O. instead arose from an intervening cause not identifiable with normal ownership, maintenance, and use of an insured vehicle—namely unprotected sexual activities, a failure to adhere to protections against the transmission of sexually transmitted disease, and/or the failure to warn of such a possible transmission.

What do you mean that having sex in a car is not “normal ownership, maintenance, and use of an insured vehicle!”  Then why does Autoblog.com provide prospective buyers with the front and rear leg room of a 2014 Hyundai Genesis.

As you’d expect, this is a classic “use of an auto” case.  And, as I wrote here 7 years ago: “Come On. Who Doesn’t Love A Good ‘Use Of An Auto” Case.’” 




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