GEICO STD-from-car claim rolls on in court

Case currently on further appeal following last year's ruling reversal

GEICO STD-from-car claim rolls on in court

Motor & Fleet

By Terry Gangcuangco

Remember the case involving GEICO and a claimant seeking to be compensated after allegedly contracting a sexually transmitted disease in a policyholder’s car? Well, you will be mistaken if you think that claim is already done and dusted. On further contest, the case is being heard by a three-judge panel on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Previous decisions on the unusual case, which began in 2021, include rulings in favor of both sides. GEICO, which would have been on the hook to compensate the woman (identified only as M.O.), saw a lower court's judgment overturned.

M.O., who had initially sought $1 million but was awarded $5.2 million by a Missouri arbitrator, now wants US Circuit Judges Steven Colloton, Michael Melloy, and Raymond Gruender to rule back in her favor, arguing against the supposed ambiguity of the GEICO policy and insisting that her claim falls under the bodily injury cover provided by the car insurance.

For GEICO’s camp, however, the automobile insurance policy only applies when the vehicle is used for “vehicular purposes,” suggesting that a car romp isn’t one of them.

As such, during a recent hearing, one argument was on whether “normal use of an auto” is ambiguous enough to get M.O. paid.      

A judge asked: “It’s foreseeable that people are going to have sex in the car – I mean, that’s clearly foreseeable, right?”

To this, GEICO attorney Douglas Beck pointed out that “conceivability” is a different matter; i.e. just because people could use their cars for sexual activities does not mean it’s a covered incident. He went on to stress that the policy in question is for auto coverage and is not a restriction-free general liability insurance.

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