She claimed he didn't tell her he had HPV when they had sex in his car.
GEICO has been ordered to pay $5.2million to a woman who caught an STI in an insured car.
The woman, identified as M.O., claimed she contracted HPV (human papillomavirus) after having unprotected sex in her partner’s 2014 Hyundai Genesis — and the Missouri Court of Appeals just confirmed the insurance company is financially liable.
The trysts began back in 2017. The woman claimed her then-boyfriend M.B. knew he had been diagnosed with HPV-positive throat cancer, but did not tell her or take any steps to prevent transmission.
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According to court documents, the woman contacted GEICO in February of last year informing them she intended pursuing monetary damages, and offered to settle for $1million.
When the company investigated, M.B. insisted he had told his partner about his condition on at least three different occasions, that they had had sex in locations other than the car, and that she had sexual partners other than him in the relevant time period.
GEICO insisted there was no coverage, as the “damages claimed did not arise out of the normal use of the vehicle”.
This sent the case to arbitration at Jackson County Circuit Court; in March 2021, the arbitrator determined “there was sexual activity in [Insured’s] automobile”, and this sexual activity “directly caused, or directly contributed to cause, M.O. to be infected with HPV” — and awarded her $5.2million, which she was then free to pursue from her ex’s insurance company.
GEICO attempted to have the ruling tossed out, claiming it only found out about the arbitration afterwards, and that it had no chance to defend its interests.
But on Tuesday, a three-judge panel at the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the judgement was valid, and that the company is liable for all damages.
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Both M.O. and M.B. have fought to keep their full names out of the court proceedings throughout; in October a Magistrate Judge denied this request.
“Although this case involves details of a highly sensitive and personal nature — namely, alleged transmission of HPV via two adults who voluntarily had unprotected sex — this is not unusual by today’s standards,” wrote Judge Angel D. Mitchell.
He said the only harm the former couple had proven they would suffer by the disclosure of their names was “embarrassment” — which was insufficient to allow them remain anonymous.
“…any remaining privacy interests the movants have do not outweigh the public’s interest in open court proceedings,” he wrote. “Indeed, the details of their relationship are less private in the context of the nature of the case, in which defendants assert insurance coverage claims that present novel and arguably important legal issues that will likely be of interest to other insurance companies and insureds.”
The judge did, however, allow them remain temporarily anonymous until a separate jurisdiction appeal has been resolved. After that, he said, GEICO had seven calendar days in which they must fully identify the pair.
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