St. Louis, MO – A Missouri woman is poised to receive $5.2 million from GEICO General Insurance Company after she claimed she caught a sexually transmitted disease during an encounter in a vehicle belonging to one of their insured customers.
The woman, who was identified in court documents only as “M.O.,” contacted GEICO in February of 2021 to let them know she had unwittingly contracted the human papillomavirus (HPV) while having sex with an insured member in his car and that she planned to seek monetary damages from the insurance company, The Kansas City Star reported.
She demanded the company send her $1 million for “negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress,” according to The Washington Post.
“Let me know,” M.O. told the company in her letter.
According to court documents, M.O. alleged that the insured member knew he had HPV and was aware of the risks of unprotected sex, but that he infected her anyway, The Kansas City Star reported.
The case proceeded to arbitration, where the arbitrator determined the sexual encounter inside the man’s car “directly caused, or directly contributed to cause” M.O. to be infected with HPV, according to the paper.
The arbitrator further found that the man was liable because he knew he was infected with HPV and did not tell M.O.
M.O. was then awarded $5.2 million for injuries and damages, which was ordered to be paid by GEICO.
The insurance company subsequently filed motions alleging the judgement violated GEICO’s due process and that the agreement created by the arbitrator was not enforceable, The Kansas City Star reported.
GEICO asked for the award to be tossed out and for a new hearing to be scheduled.
The requests were all denied by a lower court, so the insurance company appealed, The Kansas City Star reported.
The Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling on June 7, arguing that GEICO did not have a right to “relitigate” issues after damages had been determined and the judgement had been entered, The Kansas City Star reported.
But Judge Tom Chapman, one of three judges on the appeals court panel, noted that the insurance company was not given any “meaningful opportunity to participate” in the lawsuit, according to the paper.
Chapman further said that current law “regulate(s) the insurer to the status of a bystander,” The Kansas City Star reported.
GEICO has argued that the claim is not covered under its insurance policy and is contesting the decision in federal court.
The federal case is still pending.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Angel D. Mitchell said the case could have a lasting impact on how insurance companies pay out for incidents that occur inside insured vehicles, The Washington Post reported.
“This case presents novel and potentially important issues about whether an insurance carrier can be held liable under such policies for the consequences of two adults voluntarily having unprotected sex in the insured’s automobile,” Mitchell said in 2021.
“Interpretation of these policies could have far-reaching implications for other policies with similar terms,” he added.