Court: No Insurance for Bouncers Who Beat Up Baltimore Bar Patrons

November 6, 2005

Insurance companies are not required to cover judgments against bar bouncers who beat up patrons without just cause, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz granted summary judgment for insurers last week in two cases brought by Baltimore bars.

Bar patron Toi Marie Lewis sued the owners of the Paradox Club in 2002 after an incident in which a bouncer “grasped Lewis, lifted her from the floor and threw her through a set of doors onto the street,” breaking her leg, according to the claim.

After a trial ended in a mistrial, Lewis and Paradox reached a $120,000 settlement. Lewis’ claims for assault, battery and negligent hiring were dismissed.

When Lewis sought to recover the settlement amount from Hatboro, Pa.-based Penn-America Insurance Co., the insurer filed a claim in federal court to establish lack of coverage. Paradox and Lewis both filed counterclaims.

Paradox’s policy with Penn-America, Motz wrote, specifically excluded coverage for damages resulting from “assault and battery or physical altercations.”

In the second case, Motz concluded that Richmond, Va.-based Essex Insurance Co. was under no obligation to reimburse Kamaki Skiathos Inc. for costs in defending three lawsuits stemming from the actions of employees at Moby’s Bar.

Motz noted that the Essex coverage specifically excludes intentional injury, assault and battery.

“The 2002 policy even explicitly confirms that this exclusion operates in the context of bars such as Moby’s,” he wrote.

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