Assault and Battery Exclusion Bars Coverage for Negligence Action Arising from Stabbing at Concert

In a win for Wiley Rein’s client, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California applied an assault and battery exclusion to bar coverage for a negligence action arising from a stabbing that occurred at a concert promoted by the insured.  Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London Subscribing to Policy No. EH7713140 v WorldOne Presents, LLC, 2019 WL 4747708 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2019).

The insured purchased a Special Events Policy which provided coverage for “Bodily Injury” caused by an “Accident” at a concert.  The Policy included an Assault and Battery Exclusion, which barred coverage for claims or liability “arising out of or resulting from,” in relevant part, “(a) ‘assault,’ ‘battery,’ or ‘assault and battery’ committed by any person; (b) failure to suppress or prevent ‘assault,’ ‘battery,’ or ‘assault and battery;’ [or] (c) failure to provide an environment safe from ‘assault,’ ‘battery,’ or ‘assault and battery.’”

At the concert insured under the Policy, a fight broke out.  A concertgoer alleged that he was stabbed trying to break up the fight after the insured’s security personnel failed to step in.  The concertgoer filed suit against the insured, alleging that the insured’s negligence in failing to provide adequate security personnel at the concert caused his injuries.  The insurer denied coverage on the grounds that the Assault and Battery Exclusion precluded coverage.

In subsequent coverage litigation, the court granted the insurer summary judgment.  The court first pointed to California case law holding that the Assault and Battery exclusion’s prefatory language—“arising out of”—is broad and “connotes only minimal causal connection or incidental relationship” between the facts and the event creating liability.  In addition, the court relied on the Policy’s definition of “battery” to conclude that the concertgoer’s injuries were the result of battery.  Thus, the court held that the concertgoer’s causes of action, including his negligence claim, “arose out of” assault and battery “because they are causally connected and incidentally related to the stabbing.”  The court held that concertgoer’s allegation that the insured failed to take necessary precautions to protect him from assault and battery also implicated the exclusion.  Notably, the court held that “even where an insured’s alleged negligence is the basis of its liability resulting from an assault and battery, courts have applied the exclusion to bar coverage on the basis that the claim arose from the assault.”


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