Shooting not Covered by Auto Insurance Policy, Ark. Court Says

March 3, 2006

An auto insurance company does not have to defend a customer in St. Francis County who, while sitting in his pickup truck, shot another person through the wall of a house, the Arkansas Court of Appeals has ruled.

Judges reversed a St. Francis County judge’s ruling that the shooting fell under the terms of American Underwriters Insurance Company’s policy for Steven Drummond.

In June 2002, Drummond drove behind Kenneth Dilks and his son Bobby while the two were riding a four-wheeler along the highway, trying to hit them, according to the court opinion.

When the Dilkses arrived at their home, Drummond pulled in front of the home, pointed his shotgun and fired a shot at Kenneth Dilks, the opinion said. The shot went through the wall of the Dilks’ residence at hit Bobby Dilks.

Drummond told police that he was trying to scare Kenneth Dilks and didn’t intend on shooting anyone, according to a complaint filed by the Dilks. Drummond earlier in the day had become angry when a woman who lived with him asked Tina Dilks, Bobby’s mother, for a ride to Palestine.

After Bobby Dilks’ parents filed a lawsuit against Drummond, his attorney asked the insurance company for defense and coverage.

The insurance company argued that the policy covered auto accidents, not intentional acts. The Dilks family responded with a motion to dismiss and claimed that the term “auto accident” was not defined in Drummond’s policy.

Judges ruled that the shooting did not meet the definition of an accident under Drummond’s insurance policy.

“Even if … the shooting was a culmination of a series of events in which Steven used his vehicle to harass and terrorize them, only a strained construction would permit the shooting to be considered an ‘auto accident,”’ Judge Josephine Linker Hart wrote in the court’s opinion.

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