United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge
insurance case principally involves the scope of an
assault-and-battery exclusion within a commercial general
liability policy. Plaintiff Atlantic Casualty Insurance
Company (Atlantic) has invoked this Court‘s diversity
jurisdiction seeking declaratory relief that it has no duty
to defend or to indemnify for injuries stemming from a brutal
attack that occurred on the premises of Atlantic‘s
policyholder. Because I conclude that the incident clearly
falls within the scope of the assault-and-battery exclusion
in the insurance policy, I will grant Atlantic‘s
motions for summary judgment.
federal lawsuit is related to a prior state court complaint
that was filed by Thomas Robinson against Paul Kopacz and Jon
St. Pierre. Doc. #42-4. Robinson‘s state court
complaint alleges that Kopacz owned a paving and landscaping
business in Milford, Connecticut at which he employed
Robinson. On December 2, 2006, Kopacz instructed Robinson to
remain at his place of business overnight to prepare for a
job early the next morning. That morning, Kopacz enlisted the
help of St. Pierre to come to the premises to obtain certain
so-called "business information" from Robinson by
whatever means were required. St. Pierre proceeded to attack
Robinson with a two-by-four and with steel-toed boots, then
doused him with gasoline and lit him on fire.
Pierre was found guilty of first-degree assault and
third-degree arson, and Robinson eventually settled the state
court case against Kopacz and St. Pierre for several million
dollars. Atlantic had issued a commercial general liability
insurance policy for Kopacz. Atlantic has filed this lawsuit
for declaratory relief against Robinson, Kopacz, and St.
Pierre. Default judgment has already entered against Kopacz
and St. Pierre, and now Atlantic seeks summary judgment
judgment may be granted only if there is no genuine issue of
fact for trial, and I must view the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(a); Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866
(2014) (per curiam). Of course, an insured‘s
duty to defend is broader than the duty to indemnify.
"An insurer‘s duty to defend . . . is determined
by reference to the allegations . . . in the [underlying]
complaint." Community Action for Greater Middlesex
City, Inc. v. American Alliance Insurance Co., 254 Conn.
387, 398-99 (2000). The duty to defend does not depend on
whether the insured will ultimately be found liable. "If
an allegation of the complaint falls even possibly within the
coverage, then the insurance company must defend the
insured." Community Action, 254 Conn. at
argues that several provisions of the policy exclude coverage
for the conduct that injured Robinson. Whatever the merits of
the other arguments, it is at least clear to me that there
was no possible coverage under the policy because of the very
explicit exclusion for incidents arising from assault and
battery. The policy contained the following language, under a
section titled "Exclusion - Assault and/or
This insurance does not apply to and we have no duty to
defend any claims or "suits" for "bodily
injury "property damage" or "personal and
advertising injury" arising in whole or in part out of:
(a) The actual or threatened assault or battery whether
caused by or at the instigation or direction of any insured .
. . or any other person;
(b) The failure of any insured or anyone else for whom any
insured is legally responsible to prevent or suppress assault
or battery; or
(c) The negligent employment, investigation, supervision,
training or retention of a person for whom any insured is or
ever was legally responsible and whose conduct would be
excluded by (a) or (b) above.
Doc. #1-1 at 43.
Robinson concedes, Connecticut courts have consistently found
nearly identical provisions unambiguous and enforceable.
See Kelly v. Figueoredo, 223 Conn. 31, 37 (1992). It
is also clear from my reading of the state court complaint
that Robinson "describes no . . . manner in which he
sustained his injuries" other than from an assault and